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Foreign leaders from the Group of Seven (G-7) failed to agree on a joint declaration because of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s request that they refer to the novel coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus,” according to media reports.
The dispute between leaders of the industrialized nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — and the United States has caused issues for the group, which was supposed to meet in Pittsburgh for a summit this week, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.
The meeting was canceled amid the global pandemic and the group held a video conference instead.
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“I always think about these meetings the right answer is to make sure we have the same message coming out of it,” Pompeo said Wednesday during a press briefing. “I am confident that when you hear the other six foreign ministers speak, they will have a common understanding of what we talked about today.
“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,” he added.
President Trump and some Republican congressional lawmakers have described the pandemic as the “China virus” or “Wuhan virus,” to call attention to the Chinese city where the outbreak originated in December 2019.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday in Washington. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)
The term has angered China and some congressional Democrats who argue it has racist undertones and could fuel hate toward Asian-Americans. Public health officials and the World Health Organization have advised against naming human infectious diseases after places of origin.
At the press briefing, Pompeo called for transparency in order to combat the virus.
“We’ve wanted to work with the Chinese Communist Party throughout this crisis — this crisis that began in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo said. “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.”
“The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” he added.
Washington has heavily criticized Beijing for engaging in a disinformation campaign to cover up its role in the early stages of the crisis by concealing reports of the virus and detaining doctors who sounded early alarms.
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Chinese officials have promoted a conspiracy theory that the U.S. military created the global pandemic, something its ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, disavowed earlier this week.