WHO chief says he has good relationship with Trump despite President’s threats to pull funding

Despite President Trump announcing last week that is considering pulling funding to the World Health Organization, Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he has a “very good” relationship with Trump.

Last week US News reported President Trump said the World Health Organization has made mistakes amid the coronavirus pandemic and he plans to place a “very powerful hold” on funding the group.

“They actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it,” Trump said at the White House coronavirus task force briefing. “And they were wrong. They’ve been wrong about a lot of things. They had a lot of information early … They seem to be very China-centric. We have to look into that, so we’re going to look into it.”

Trump said that WHO receives “vast amounts of money from the United States,” adding it pays for the largest portion of the organization’s funds. He said the organization “called it wrong.”

“They missed the call,” Trump said. “They could’ve called it months earlier. They would’ve known. They should’ve known, and they probably did know. So we’ll be looking into that very carefully.”

The Hill reports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general said Monday he hopes to maintain good relations with the United States as President Trump sends signals he is considering cutting the agency’s funding in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he spoke with Trump two weeks ago.

“The United States is actually the largest contributor to WHO, and I have met President Trump a number of times before, starting from 2017,” Tedros said. “What I know is that he is supportive, and I hope the funding to WHO will continue. The relationships that we have is very good, and we hope this will continue.”

Trump said Friday that the United States had contributed far more to the WHO than other countries, specifically China.

“We’re going to talk about the WHO next week in great detail,” Trump said during his daily press briefing. “But over the years, many years, we’ve been paying them from 300 to 500, and even more, million dollars a year. China has been paying them less than 40 over the years. So we’re paying them more than 10 times more than China. And they are very, very China-centric, as I said during the week. China-centric.”

“China always seems to get the better of the argument, and I don’t like that. I really don’t like that. I don’t think that’s appropriate. I don’t think it’s fair to the American people. And, you know, I tell that to President Xi. I tell that to Dr. Tedros. I spoke to him one time. I think he’s a very nice man. I liked him,” Trump added. “But we’re going to be talking about that next week in great detail. We’re looking at it very, very closely. We want to make sure money is properly spent.”

The WHO, a United Nations-affiliated organization, is chronically underfunded. The agency has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting the coronavirus that has spread across the globe, and it is one of the only agencies still fighting an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Congo.

Tedros did not respond to a follow-up question about the impact potential cuts would have on the WHO’s ability to fight the coronavirus and its spread.