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G-7 failed to agree on statement after U.S. insisted on calling coronavirus outbreak ‘Wuhan virus’

G-7 failed to agree on statement after U.S. insisted on calling coronavirus outbreak ‘Wuhan virus’
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Foreign ministers representing seven major industrialized nations failed to agree on a joint statement Wednesday after the Trump administration insisted on referring to the coronavirus outbreak as the “Wuhan virus,” three officials from G-7 countries told The Washington Post.

Other nations in the group of world powers rejected the term because they viewed it as needlessly divisive at a time when international cooperation is required to slow the global pandemic and deal with the scarcity of medical supplies, officials said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has brushed off criticism of his use of the term, saying it’s important to point out that the virus came from the Chinese city of Wuhan and that China’s government had a special responsibility to warn the world about its dangers.

When asked about a report that his insistence on including the term caused a rift at the G-7 meeting, Pompeo did not deny the charge but said that any disagreements among the group were tactical and not sweeping in nature.

Everyone in that meeting this morning was very focused on making sure that we not only solve the health crisis associated with the Wuhan virus but also the economic challenges

“Make no mistake about it, everyone in that meeting this morning was very focused on making sure that we not only solve the health crisis associated with the Wuhan virus but also the economic challenges that face the globe as we confront it as well,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

President Trump and some Republican lawmakers have referred to the outbreak as the “China virus.”

Pompeo, in his remarks on Wednesday, doubled down on his criticism of Beijing.

“We tried, you’ll remember, from the opening days to get our scientists, our experts on the ground there so that we could begin to assist in the global response to what began there in China, but we weren’t able to do that. The Chinese Communist Party wouldn’t permit that to happen,” he said.

“The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” Pompeo added.

The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated

One European official said there were multiple disagreements among the G-7 members Wednesday but acknowledged that “Wuhan virus” posed the most significant obstacle. Besides viewing the term as inappropriate, some officials noted that experts could not say with absolute certainty that the virus came from Wuhan until further research is conducted.

When asked about the disagreement, a State Department spokesperson noted that the group of nations issued a joint statement on March 16 concerning the pandemic.

Washington’s insistence on using the term “Wuhan virus” was first reported by Der Spiegel.

The G-7 meeting was originally scheduled to be held in Pittsburg, but organizers switched to video conference due to the spread of the outbreak, which has resulted in more than 435,000 infections and more than 20,000 deaths worldwide.

Our most powerful weapon is that we know what it is and we can learn from people who have already suffered through it

Looking back at how politicians reacted, how the public felt and what was normal just a week ago makes the change even more abrupt

We may dodge a big bullet here. ... But we may well end up in a situation where we have to make some very tough ethical decisions
Read more on National Post
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