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G-7 foreign ministers spar over coronavirus amid pandemic

SeattlePI.com Wednesday, 25 March 2020 ()
WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign ministers from the Group of 7 leading industrialized democracies sparred Wednesday over whether to call out China as the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meeting by video conference because of the outbreak, the ministers agreed on the need for joint efforts to halt the spread of the virus, known as COVID-19. But U.S. and European diplomats said the ministers were unable to agree on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for COVID-19 to be identified by name as the “Wuhan virus.”

As a result, just a day after G-7 finance ministers and central bankers issued a joint communique referring to “COVID-19,” the foreign ministers opted against releasing a group statement. U.S, officials pointed to Tuesday's finance ministers' statement to reject suggestions of G-7 disunity and said the foreign ministers had never intended to release their own communique.

European officials said Pompeo had insisted on identifying COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” even though the World Health Organization and others have cautioned against giving it a geographic name because of its global nature. In recent weeks, Pompeo has stepped up his use of “Wuhan virus," accusing China of putting the world at risk by not revealing more details about the outbreak, which was first reported in the city of Wuhan.

President Donald Trump had until very recently frequently referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” or the “Chinese virus," but since the beginning of this week has steered away from those terms as critics have said they foster discriminatory sentiments and behavior against Asians and Asian Americans.

In a solo news conference after the meeting, Pompeo again referred to the “Wuhan virus," saying it was “the most pressing agenda item." He said all the foreign ministers had “committed to fighting (it)...
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Credit: PA - Press Association STUDIO - Published
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