WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he has instructed his administration to at least temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, at a White House news conference, said the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He said the group had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred.
The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.
But Trump has been increasingly critical of the organization as the global health crisis has continued, accusing it of being too lenient with China in the earliest days of the pandemic, causing unnecessary deaths.
“The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said.
The WHO has been appealing for more than $1 billion to fund operations against the pandemic. The U.N. agency needs more resources than ever as it leads the global response against the disease.
Trump said Washington would discuss with global health partners what it will do with the millions of dollars that would normally go to the WHO and said the United States would continue to engage with the organization.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)