European Union urges Trump to rethink cutting funding to WHO

Posted at 10:55 AM, May 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-30 12:55:46-04

The European Union on Saturday urged President Trump to rethink his decision to cut American funding for the World Health Organization (WHO). Leaders worldwide have criticized the Mr. Trump's move as spiking coronavirus infection rates in India and elsewhere served as a reminder the global pandemic is far from contained.

Mr. Trump on Friday alleged that the WHO didn't respond adequately to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the U.N. agency of being under China's "total control."

The president for weeks has expressed frustration with China, blaming the communist country and in part the WHO for the spread of the deadly virus that has left more than 100,000 dead in the U.S.

"Our actions will be strong, our actions will be meaningful," Mr. Trump said.

On Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged Mr. Trump to reconsider, saying that "actions that weaken international results must be avoided" and "now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions."

"The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future," she said. "For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed."

The U.S. is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Mr. Trump said the U.S. would be "redirecting" the money to "other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," without providing specifics.

The WHO wouldn't comment on the announcement, but South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize called it an "unfortunate" turn of events.

"Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the world to be particularly focused...on one common enemy," he told reporters.

In China, where the virus outbreak began, only four new confirmed cases were reported Saturday, all brought from outside the country, and no new deaths. Just 63 people remained in treatment.

The president had alluded to holding China accountable for the pandemic in some way. On Friday morning, the president simply tweeted "CHINA!" with no explanation. On Thursday, the president demurred on whether he would stay in the U.S.-China trade deal.

"We'll be announcing what we're doing tomorrow with respect to China. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with what's happened," the president said in the Oval Office Thursday. "All over the world, people are suffering. A hundred and eighty-six countries — all over the world they're suffering. We're not happy."

Close to 6 million coronavirus infections have been reported worldwide, with more than 365,000 deaths and almost 2.5 million recoveries, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

As some countries have effectively lowered the rate of infections, they have been moving ahead with relaxing restrictions but are keeping a very close eye on developments.

But India registered another record single day jump of 7,964 cases and 265 deaths, a day before it was to end its 2-month-old lockdown. That put the country's total cases at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths and 82,369 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry.

Still, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said in an open letter that India was on the path to "victory" in its battle against the virus and would "an example in economic revival," while asking his countrymen to show "firm resolve."

The U.S. has been worst hit by the outbreak, with more than 1.7 million cases and almost 103,000 deaths.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said Saturday that as things stand with the American pandemic situation, if Mr. Trump decides to go ahead with the Group of Seven summit in the U.S. as he has suggested he might, she would not attend in person.