REUTERS - Aug 7, 2020 -
(Reuters) - France and Germany have quit talks on reforming the World Health Organization in frustration at attempts by the United States to lead the negotiations, despite its decision to leave the WHO, three officials told Reuters.
The move is a setback for President Donald Trump as Washington, which holds the rotating chair of the G7, had hoped to issue a common roadmap for a sweeping overhaul of the WHO in September, two months before the U.S. presidential election.
The United States gave the WHO a year’s notice in July that it is leaving the U.N. agency - which was created to improve health globally - after Trump accused it of being too close to China and having mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO has dismissed his accusations. European governments have also criticised the WHO but do not go as far as the United States in their criticism, and the decision by Paris and Berlin to leave the talks follows tensions over what they say are Washington’s attempts to dominate the negotiations.
“Nobody wants to be dragged into a reform process and getting an outline for it from a country which itself just left the WHO,” a senior European official involved in the talks said.
The German and French health ministries confirmed to Reuters that the two countries were opposed to the United States leading the talks after announcing their intention to leave the organisation.
A spokesman for the Italian health ministry said that work on the reform document was still underway, adding however that Italy’s position was in line with Paris and Berlin.