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President Trump on Saturday said no decision has been made on World Health Organization funding, and that a plan first reported by Fox News to restore 10 percent of funding is one of a number of ideas being considered.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” reported Friday that the administration is on the brink of restoring some funding to the WHO, after pausing support last month amid an investigation into the U.N. organization’s alleged pro-China bias and its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a five-page draft letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus obtained by “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the administration will “agree to pay up to what China pays in assessed contributions” to the WHO.
But Trump, responding to Fox Business host Lou Dobbs on Twitter, said a final decision hasn’t been made.
“Lou, this is just one of numerous concepts being considered under which we would pay 10% of what we have been paying over many years, matching much lower China payments,” Trump tweeted. “Have not made final decision. All funds are frozen. Thanks!”
The U.S. had been providing about $400 million a year to the WHO. If the U.S. does match China’s contributions, the new funding level will be about one-tenth of that amount.
“If China increases its funding to the WHO,” the draft letter adds, “we will consider matching those increases.”
Maintaining funding for the organization, even at a reduced level, would mark a shift in the strategy by the administration of withdrawing entirely from a number of funding obligations and memberships at the U.N.
Under Trump, the U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and has pulled funding from the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency.
The WHO’s handling of the pandemic has come under intense scrutiny, particularly about leaders’ praise of the Chinese government and its repetition of Chinese claims in January that the virus could not be spread person to person. Trump has also cited WHO officials’ initial criticism of his travel ban on China.
Fox News first reported last month that U.S. officials believe the WHO either looked the other way or was complicit in a coverup of the original outbreak of the virus by the Chinese.
The draft letter calls for “commonsense reforms of the WHO,” including “a universal review mechanism to publicly report on member state compliance with International Health Regulations … including timely and effective declarations of Public Health Emergencies of International Concern.”
The draft also says the WHO and its Director-General must be “insulat[ed] … from political pressure in relation to public health decisions and participation in WHO meetings” and calls for “a fully independent assessment of the origin of this virus and the WHO COVID-19 response.”
Leading Democrats and health experts have criticized Trump’s move to suspend WHO funding as damaging to international efforts to respond to the pandemic.
Fox News’ Victor Garcia and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.