The United States will pay the World Health Organization more than $200 million in membership fees that were withheld by former President Donald Trump, CNBC reports.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that the Biden administration would pay back the fees, which Trump refused to pay while trying to blame the WHO amid his own administration’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member and it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic even as we work to reform it for the future,” Blinken said.
“The United States will work with our partners across the globe to expand manufacturing and distribution capacity and to increase access, including marginalized populations,” he added.
Blinken pushes fact-checking effort:
Blinken also used his UN Security Council appearance to press other nations to bat back misinformation about vaccines and disclose information about the origins of the coronavirus.
“The ongoing expert investigation about the origins of this pandemic and the report that will be issued must be independent with findings based on science and facts and free from interference,” Blinken said.
“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, all countries must make available all data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” he added.
Biden rescinded Trump’s order:
One of President Joe Biden’s first acts in office was to rescind Trump’s directive to pull out of the WHO, which was set to take effect in July.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in October that he hoped the US would reconsider.
“The problem is not about the money. It’s not the financing that’s the issue. It’s actually the relationship with the U.S. that’s more important and its leadership abroad,” he said.