- Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said the US would pay $200 million to the World Health Organization.
- It represents a reversal of Trump’s policy to withdraw the US from the WHO.
- Blinken said the decision ‘reflects our renewed commitment’ to supporting the WHO in its COVID-19 response.
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The United States will pay the World Health Organization $200 million by the end of the month as the Biden administration moves to reverse Trump’s attempts to withdraw from the international body, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has confirmed.
“I’m pleased to confirm that by the end of the month the United States intends to pay over 200 million in assessed and current obligations to the WHO,” Blinken said at a UN Security Council briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member. And it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic, even as we work to reform it for the future.”
President Joe Biden immediately moved to rejoin the WHO on taking office in January. Blinken’s commitment to pay $200 million means the US will make good on payments owed to the organization after President Donald Trump last year froze funding.
He subsequently said he was “terminating” Washington’s relationship with the WHO last year over its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump had accused the WHO of botching its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and said China had “total control” over the organization. The US would have left the WHO on July 6, 2021, on Trump’s instruction.
Critics at the time said that Trump’s decision to try and withdraw the US from the WHO, which plays a critical role in co-coordinating global responses to health crises, could prolong and worsen the coronavirus pandemic.
Blinken, who on Wednesday gave his first speech as secretary of state by video conference, also repeated concerns in the White House that the WHO’s fact-finding investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China may not be independent.
He said: “The ongoing expert investigation about the origins of this pandemic – and the report that will be issued — must be independent, with findings based on science and facts and free from interference.”
Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, previously suggested that both Chinese officials and WHO investigators themselves may not have been acting independently from Beijing.
“We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them,” Sullivan said in a statement on Saturday, which was cited by Reuters.