Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden says he will reverse President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization.
“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage,” the former vice president tweeted Tuesday evening.
Biden’s pledge to rejoin the embattled organization came shortly after the Trump administration confirmed its move to break ties with the global health body as the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague much of the world.
The official withdrawal, should it go through, will be effective July 6, 2021.
The relationship between the US and WHO has soured since last year, when the pandemic began killing by the hundreds of thousands and sent global financial markets into tailspins.
In mid-April, President Trump announced a cut to US funding for the WHO until a review was completed into its relationship with China and the early days of the outbreak.
One month later, he agreed to resume partial payments to the embattled organization, but said the US would only match what China currently pays in contributions.
Later in May, he revealed a letter he sent to the director-general threatening to permanently cease US funding to the agency if it did not commit to “substantive improvements” within the next 30 days.
“It is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization,” the commander-in-chief wrote.
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” the letter continued.
At the end of that month, the relationship took yet another turn for the worst when the commander-in-chief said that the agency had declined to make the requested reforms.
Trump announced he was suspending the US relationship with the organization — blasting the global body for covering up the coronavirus crisis with China.
At a press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump accused the United Nations organization of being under the control of the Communist nation and said it failed to provide transparency over the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“China has total control over the World Health Organization,” Trump said, noting that the US contributed $450 million to the WHO each year compared to China’s $40 million.
“We have detailed reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he continued.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping pressured the director of the World Health Organization in January to hold off on issuing a global warning about the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report in a German newspaper in May.
The Jan. 21 conversation between Jinping and WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was reported in Der Spiegel, which cited intelligence from Germany’s federal intelligence service, known as the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).
The report said Xi urged the WHO chief to “delay a global warning” about the pandemic and hold back information on the human-to-human transmission of the virus.
The BND estimated that China’s action to conceal information resulted in a loss of four to six weeks in the fight against COVID-19.
The WHO denied these allegations.
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