PM and Trump Discuss Virus, China and WHO

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
April 22, 2020Updated: April 22, 2020

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has spoken to Donald Trump about the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the performance of the World Health Organisation.

Scott Morrison and the US president on April 22 discussed the need for transparency, in a clear reference to China, and the need to improve global institutions like the WHO in their response to pandemics.

Morrison raised Australia’s focus on supporting countries in the Pacific and South East Asia, where the United States also holds a keen strategic interest.

He also spoke about the role of the WHO with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Morrison has been scathing of the United Nations agency for its handling of COVID-19 after it criticised Australia for closing its borders to Chinese tourists and took two weeks longer to declare a pandemic.

He has also challenged its decision to support China reopening wet markets, which were the likely cause of the deadly disease.

The prime minister discussed co-operation on repatriating stranded citizens with Ms Merkel and the pair also talked about negotiations on a free-trade deal between Australia and the European Union.

He and Macron discussed the need for greater international co-operation in response to pandemics, including on developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

By Daniel McCulloch