EU asks US to rethink World Health Organization withdrawal

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell | Stephanie Le Cocq/EFE via EPA

‘Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,’ say EU leaders.

EU leaders urged the U.S. to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization in a statement Saturday.

“As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the main task for everyone is to save lives and contain and mitigate this pandemic,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a joint statement.

“In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided. In this context, we urge the US to reconsider its announced decision,” they said.

The request came after President Donald Trump on Friday moved ahead with plans to withdraw from the United Nations health agency, which he has accused of helping Beijing cover up the coronavirus outbreak.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said earlier Saturday that the move by the U.S. marked a “disappointing” setback for global health efforts, joining others in warning of the potential implications of Trump’s decision.

Von der Leyen and Borrell said the EU was committed to a planned review of the international response to the coronavirus, including of the WHO’s actions. However, they cautioned that, “The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future.”

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