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Trump aides consider creating alternative to #WHO

Trump aides consider creating alternative to #WHO
Monday, 13 April, 2020, 17:25

Aides to President Donald Trump are debating some potentially far-reaching moves to punish the World Health Organization in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including cutting off U.S. funding and trying to create an alternative institution.

Officials have begun drafting a letter that -- if the decision is made -- will announce a suspension of U.S. funding to the WHO and a related body, the Pan American Health Organization, according to a person familiar with the issue. The draft document also tells officials at the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other institutions to try to route the money to existing alternative organizations.

Trump on Friday teased a forthcoming announcement about the WHO next week, hinting that his administration would place a hold on its funding to the global health body. But he did not go into details Friday, instead launching into a litany of complaints about how the WHO is allegedly too close to Beijing despite the U.S. being its top donor.

“As you know, we give them approximately $500 million a year,” he said, “and we’re going to be talking about that subject next week. We’ll have a lot to say about it. We’ll hold it.”

For now, some U.S. officials are urging caution, saying it will be more fruitful to try to reform the U.N. body through existing legal and political mechanisms. Some are concerned about undermining the WHO as it responds to a still-unfolding pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people so far. Any effort to rescind U.S. funding from the WHO is also likely to be met with fierce international blowback, including from some U.S. allies, and could strengthen China’s influence on the organization.

The internal administration discussion comes as Trump and his supporters paint the WHO as partly responsible for the spread of the Covid-19 illness. The president has accused the WHO of being too “China centric,” while some Republican lawmakers have called for the ouster of the organization’s leader. Several of the loudest anti-WHO voices are hawkish on China, and they allege that WHO leaders have been too timid in holding Beijing accountable for being slow to detail the extent of the outbreak that began on Chinese soil.

A spokesperson for the WHO said the organization had no comment.