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Berlin slams US over WHO

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A symbol of the World Health Organisation at its headquarters in Geneva. AFP

Berlin slams US over WHO

Germany on Wednesday slammed the US decision to suspend payments to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as Angela Merkel’s spokesman underlined the country’s commitment to international cooperation.

US President Donald Trump announced the funding freeze on Tuesday, accusing the WHO of “severely mismanaging” the spread of the virus.

“Blaming others won’t help. The virus knows no borders,” German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter.

“One of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, above all the under-financed WHO . . . in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines.”

Meanwhile, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the WHO was doing “unbelievably important work”.

“The government is convinced of the need to support and sufficiently finance the WHO,” he added.

The US is the biggest contributor to the WHO, making payments of $400 million last year.

Trump accused the Geneva-based body of putting “political correctness above life-saving measures”.

The move sparked criticism across the world, and Berlin joined the chorus on Wednesday, with Seibert saying the pandemic was cause to “uphold our fundamental belief in the benefits of multilateralism”.

Foreign minister Maas, meanwhile, stressed the need for countries to “work together closely against Covid-19”.

Maas has previously taken aim at the Trump administration’s reaction to the virus crisis.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine last week, he said the US had “played down the virus for a very long time”.

“There really isn’t any dispute, even in the US, that many of the measures were taken too late,” he told Spiegel.

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