United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday held a videoconference with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his counterparts from Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Japan and Israel to discuss international cooperation in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and measures to deal with its economic fallout.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts discussed the importance of international cooperation, transparency, and accountability in combating the Covid-19 pandemic and in addressing its causes,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said. “The meeting also discussed collaboration toward preventing future global health crises and reaffirming the importance of the rules-based international order.”
After the meeting, Pompeo tweeted that transparency and accountability will be key to the nations’ shared success in overcoming the health crisis.
Meanwhile, Jaishankar said that the leaders at the meeting discussed medical cooperation and ways to rebuild the global economy affected by the pandemic. “Conversation covered pandemic response, global health management, medical cooperation, economic recovery and travel norms,” he tweeted. “Look forward to continuing this engagement.”
Pompeo and his counterparts also discussed China’s response to the pandemic, according to Hindustan Times. Beset by criticism of its response to the outbreak and management of the ensuing public health crisis, the Donald Trump administration has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic. Earlier this month, Pompeo had claimed there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus outbreak originated in a Chinese laboratory – but did not provide any of the alleged evidence.
The Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegations, and other US officials have downplayed their likelihood. Most experts believe the virus originated in a market selling wildlife in Wuhan and somehow passed on from animals to people.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s office said that transparency and learning lessons from the pandemic will be critical to prevent future outbreaks.
Last month, Pompeo had said that the US government was working with Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam to “move the global economy forward” and explore restructuring “supply chains to prevent something like this from ever happening again”.
The coronavirus has infected more than 41 lakh people across the world and claimed over 2.86 lakh lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.