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In her first U.S. televised interview since accepting her role as ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft explained to Fox News’ Eric Shawn on “America’s News Headquarters” how the U.S. has laid out its international response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it’s really important that every country plays a constructive role in being part of the solution… and I think that each country at the U.N…. has a responsibility to work together to try to mitigate this virus,” Craft said Sunday.
Praising President Trump’s handling of the outbreak, Craft said a diplomatic response would begin with “incredible leadership” and credited the United States for setting “an example for the world in how to mitigate not only this pandemic, but future ones.”
She continued, “It all started with President Trump and the team that he has assembled, led by our Vice President Mike Pence.”
“President Trump has… really set an example for the world in how to mitigate not only this pandemic, but future ones.”
— U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft
Although Trump has been vocal about assigning blame to China for the coronavirus — which originated in Wuhan — and often has referred to it as the “Chinese virus,” Craft said it was “not the time for a blame game,” adding that she’ll focus instead on mitigating the virus in international areas of conflict.
“This isn’t our first pandemic, and this would not be our last. I think that we need to learn from the mistakes that China made. We need to be more transparent and more thoughtful with following through with information. We also need to learn from what China has done that has worked, and build upon that.”
She continued, “We as the nation have come together and we understand the importance of bringing everyone into the fold because the U.S. cannot do this alone and that… this virus has no borders, it sees no boundaries. And, we have situations, crises all over the world that are not going to be put on hold because of the pandemic, so it’s been very important at the U.N. in that we set aside blame and work together and try to mitigate this virus… in the areas of conflict around the world.”
Craft echoed calls from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres for an immediate cease-fire in conflict zones around the world to tackle the pandemic, saying people caught in armed conflicts have been among the most vulnerable.
“We will be discussing Syria on Monday… we have our own issues there,” Craft said, “and if we don’t echo the secretary-general for this cease-fire, then where there’s a vacuum or conflict, there will be another virus. That’s my main concern at the moment, trying to mitigate the virus in areas of conflict.”
Craft said she’s particularly concerned with the large population of Syrian refugees in the city of Idlib, noting that they have been living in extremely close quarters.
“Turkey has taken on as many refugees as they can, and my concern is, once the refugees start crossing borders into other countries, that we are going to see a spread of this virus and even more health issues,” Craft added.
“With the World Health Organization and USAID and other NGOs [non-goverment organizations], it’s really important that we come together and support… our cross-border issues and allowing humanitarian aid that goes across the borders, that we keep those open so we can try to take care of the current issues and not allow this particular COVID-19, this pandemic, to fill the vacuum in these areas.”
Craft praised America for coming together and offered a “silver lining” to the pandemic that has paralyzed countries around the world.
“I know that we are leaving the next generation more equipped and… obviously better aware that this can happen anywhere.”
— U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft
“You always want to leave your children and your grandchildren a better world, a better place, and I know that we are leaving the next generation more equipped and… obviously better aware that this can happen anywhere because it knows no borders and this virus will continue.”
Craft added, “I have great faith in our nation… President Trump has assembled an incredible group of epidemiologists led by the vice president and Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo.”
Asked to respond to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the administration delayed taking the proper actions at the onset of the outbreak, Craft praised the State Department for sending nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China in February, but stopped short of criticizing the California Democrat.
“Speaker Pelosi has been instrumental in also being part of this team. She has worked together with [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin on the package signed this weekend,” Craft said, referring to the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that Trump signed last week.
“it’s not time for a blame game, it’s just really time to pick up and be together and focus on the positive.”
— U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft
“I think it’s really important that we focus on the positive, and the fact that President Trump has brought this country together and each American deserves a big debt of gratitude because we as American taxpayers are the most generous country in the world. And, I think we all need to focus on the positive and know that we are going to… leave our future generations better equipped to handle the next virus that comes around,” Craft concluded.
“Like I said, it’s not time for a blame game, it’s just really time to pick up and be together and focus on the positive and remember the emerging countries, the places that we need to focus on making sure we mitigate this virus.”
Fox News’ Eric Shawn contributed to this report.