(CNN) – United States President Donald Trump threatened Monday to permanently withdraw his country’s funds from the World Health Organization (WHO) if it does not “commit to making substantial improvements in the next 30 days.”
In a letter sent to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said: “It is clear that repeated mistakes by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly to the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can really demonstrate independence from China.
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“My administration has already started conversations with you on how to reform the organization. But action is necessary quickly. No time to lose”.
The threat comes at a remarkable time. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 90,000 Americans and more than 318,000 people worldwide as of Monday night, and while there are promising signs from some vaccine trials, there is no cure for the virus. The letter also highlights the extent to which blaming the WHO and China has become a critical part of the president’s response to the outbreak.
The ultimatum is a sign of Trump’s instinct to distrust global institutions at a time when many of his predecessors would trust such relationships to help stem the wave of a pandemic.
The official White House letterhead letter, the screenshots of which were posted on Twitter, attacks WHO’s stance toward China during the pandemic and lists a string of allegations that the organization ignored the warning signs.
“I cannot allow US taxpayer dollars to continue to fund an organization that, in its current state, clearly does not serve the interests of the United States,” the president wrote.
The move comes after Trump temporarily halted funding for the organization last month.
“The United States finances between $ 400 and $ 500 million to the WHO each year,” Trump said at the time, noting that China “contributes approximately $ 40 million.”
“If WHO had done its job for medical experts to enter China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and denounce China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very few deaths,” Trump said at the time. moment.
Tedros responded at the time stating that the WHO will continue to work with other countries and argued that the unit is key to fighting the coronavirus.
Trump’s decision to temporarily withdraw WHO funds continues a pattern of skepticism towards global organizations that began long before the coronavirus outbreak. The President questioned the value of United States funds sent to the United Nations, withdrew from global climate agreements and criticized the World Trade Organization, alleging that they were all ripping off his country.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has criticized China and global institutions for problems affecting the United States, and the coronavirus pandemic has served as another piece of information for his attacks.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO for being “China-focused” and not “objectively assessing the situation on the ground and pointing to China’s lack of transparency” as the number of deaths from coronavirus increases worldwide.
His harsh comments, however, are a far cry from his past statements about the Asian nation and its leader, Xi Jinping, whom Trump praised for his transparency and management of the outbreak in January.
CNN previously reported that the Trump administration is formulating a long-term plan to punish China on multiple fronts for the pandemic.
Various sources within the administration say there is an interest in using various tools, including sanctions, to cancel US debt obligations. USA and crafting new trade policies, to make clear to China, and to the rest of the world, where the Trump administration believes responsibility lies for pandemic lies.
CNN’s Kylie Atwood and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.