WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump faced international resistance Thursday as he defended his plan to cut U.S. payments to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump said he reiterated his frustration with the WHO during a call with Group of Seven leaders, and he again accused the WHO of mishandling its response and showing too much deference to China, where the new coronavirus first emerged.
Trump's conversation with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan “centered on the lack of transparency and chronic mismanagement of the pandemic by the WHO” and the G-7 leaders called for a “thorough review and reform process," according to the White House.
“I was angry because it should have been told to us,” Trump said. “It should have been told to us early, it should have been told to us a lot sooner. People knew it was happening, and people didn’t want to talk about it.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said everyone on the call recognized the importance of continuing to coordinate and collaborate on the science around the pandemic, to work on public health measures and to share information about vaccine development and possible treatments.
“There is a need for international coordination and the WHO is an important part of that collaboration and coordination,” Trudeau said outside his residence in Ottawa. "We recognize that there have been questions asked but at the same time it is really important that we stay coordinated as we move through this. That’s certainly what Canada is going to do.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her “full support” for the WHO and similar international groups, and stressed that it will take “a strong and coordinated international response" to defeat the pandemic, said her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his support for the WHO and said the organization must play a “central role” as part of an “ambitious and coordinated international response” to the virus crisis.