Trump threatens permanent freeze of WHO funding, review of U.S. membership

Donald Trump threatens permanent freeze of WHO funding review of US membership

US President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump threatened to permanently freeze USA funding to the World Health Organization unless "substantive improvements" were made within the next 30 days.

Washington suspended funding to the World Health Organization in mid-April, accusing it of being too close to China and covering up and mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping dispelled the criticism of secrecy and cover-up, saying "all along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility". "Either we get through this pandemic together, or we fail". Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience.

Tedros said he would launch an independent evaluation of WHO's response "at the earliest appropriate moment" - alluding to findings published on Tuesday in a first report by an oversight advisory body commissioned to look into WHO's response.

The review must encompass responsibility of 'all actors in good faith, ' he said.

China said the world should support the WHO.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said, "It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world".

On Monday Dr Tedros backed a review of the agency's handling of the pandemic. He has faced accusations of being too quick to praise the Chinese regime's coronavirus response.

But he stressed there was no need to dramatically overhaul the World Health Organization, saying the need of the hour was to "strengthen, implement and finance the systems and organisations it has - including World Health Organization".

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Mr Trump has accused the World Health Organization of blindly taking the word of China, where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected.

On Monday, the World Health Organization said an independent review of the global virus response would begin as soon as possible and it received backing and a hefty pledge of funds from China, in the spotlight as the origin of the pandemic.

Such an investigation "needs a scientific and professional attitude, and needs to be led by the WHO".

President Xi also defended his country's own handling of the pandemic and pledged $2 billion over two years to help with the COVID-19 response.

While diplomats have agreed in principle on the draft resolution, observers voiced concern that in the current politicised atmosphere, some countries might still choose to break the consensus next week.

The WHO and most experts say the virus is likely to have emerged in a market selling wildlife in the central city of Wuhan late previous year. Trump has questioned the value of the USA funding sent to the United Nations, has withdrawn from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization - claiming all were ripping off the United States.

A resolution tabled by the European Union called for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the global response to the pandemic, which has so far infected almost 4.8 million people and killed more than 317,000.

The president has turned the World Health Organization into a frequent target for criticism as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the US, infecting more than 1.5 million people in the country and killing more than 90,000 as of Monday night.

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