Coronavirus: Trump gives WHO ultimatum over Covid-19 handling
Tuesday - 19/05/2020 10:56
US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) threatening to pull US funding permanently over Covid-19.
The letter outlines a 30-day deadline for the body to commit to "substantive improvements" or risk losing millions and US membership altogether.
Addressed to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it criticises stages of the body's response since December.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump called the UN's health body a "puppet of China".
The president, who faces re-election this year and has himself been criticised for his handling of the pandemic, has blamed China for trying to cover up the outbreak and has accused the WHO of failing to hold Beijing to account.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Mr Trump was trying to mislead the public, smear China and "shift the blame for [the US's] own incompetent response".
The US has more than 1.5 million of the world's 4.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, with more than 90,000 deaths.
Beijing denies the allegation. Earlier this month, the Chinese foreign ministry said the country had "all along been in good communication and co-operation" with the WHO and had "never attempted to manipulate the organisation".
Also in the letter, Mr Trump:
Cites reports that the WHO delayed an emergency declaration under pressure from President Xi Jinping
Criticises the agency's praise of China's "transparency" amid its censorship and lack of international co-operation
Accuses the WHO of failing to comment on virus-related discrimination against Africans within China
Says Dr Tedros could have saved "many lives" if he had acted more like Dr Harlem Brundtland, the WHO chief during the Sars outbreak of 2003
Mr Trump, in his conclusion, alleges that "repeated missteps" by Dr Tedros and the WHO had been "extremely costly for the world".
"The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China," his letter says.