US Politics: Biden vows to block Trump's WHO withdrawal bid

Biden has vowed to reverse Trump's bid to withdraw from the WHO
Biden said the US should be part of the WHO

Joe Biden has said he will seek to keep the US in the World Health Organization if he becomes president. Tradefair brings you the latest from US politics...

On my first day as president, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage."

- Joe Biden

Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee set to take on Donald Trump in the presidential election in November, has said stopping the current president's bid to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization (WHO) will be one of his top priorities if he wins the race for the White House.

Trump this week made a formal move to follow up on his threat of taking America out of the WHO, after criticising the body for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and claiming it is controlled by China.

America now has more than three million confirmed cases of Covid-19 - more than any other country. On Tuesday, the country broke its record for the number of new cases reported in a single day.

A rocky relationship

Trump made his plans to take the US out of the WHO official this week, when he notified the United Nations and Congress of his intention to withdraw from the organisation.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general, confirmed the receipt of the American government's notification of withdrawal, which is due to take effect as of 6 July 2021.

The president has been critical of the WHO throughout the coronavirus crisis. Back in April, he threatened to halt funding for the body unless it made "substantive improvements" within 30 days.

America provided funding of more than $400 million (£316 million) to the WHO in 2019, making it the biggest single contributor to the global health agency's budget.

In May, Trump said the US would be terminating its relationship with the body and directing those funds to other global public health charities.

The president has also criticised the WHO for its links to China, claiming the Asian nation put pressure on the health agency to "mislead the world" about the coronavirus outbreak.

"China has total control over the World Health Organization," he said.

A senior official from the Trump administration told CBS News that the US had approached the WHO and outlined the changes it wanted to see, but no action was taken by the health agency.

"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship," the spokesperson added.

'Grave implications'

Biden responded to the news of the Trump administration's plans by saying that keeping America in the WHO would be one of his first jobs if he wins the forthcoming election.

"Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as president, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage," the former vice-president tweeted.

The possibility of the US stepping back from the global health agency also drew criticism from Democrats in Congress.

Robert Menendez, the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted: "Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the US from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

"It leaves Americans sick and America alone."

On the world stage, China said Trump's decision would undermine global health efforts and "will have grave implications", particularly for developing countries that rely on international support.

"We urge the United States to fulfil its international responsibilities and obligations and to show the responsibility of a big country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian added.

Biden leads in polls

The clear disagreement between Trump and Biden suggests America's future role in the WHO will be dictated by who wins the presidential election later this year.

At the moment, Biden leads the sitting president in the polls by more than ten percentage points - a bigger margin than Hillary Clinton had in the 2016 race for the White House.

How the government manages the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will surely be a key factor in the outcome of this year's election, along with the impact of the health crisis on the economy.

Trends on the stock market this week have given Trump more fuel for his claims that the economy will make a strong comeback from the pandemic.

The Nasdaq Composite was up by more than 1.4% on Wednesday (July 8), climbing to a new all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also up by nearly 0.7%, while the S&P 500 gained almost 0.8%.

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