18:01 GMT03 March 2021
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    US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan claimed the new administration rejected ex-president Donald Trump's shunning of the WHO — while echoing the criticisms of former secretary of state Mike Pompeo earlier this week.

    Washington has demanded Beijing surrender all data on the COVID-19 pandemic after a World Health Organisation team discounted US claims the virus was man-made.

    In a statement early on Saturday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden's government had "deep concerns" over a Wall Street Journal report alleging Chinese officials withheld information from members of the recent WHO investigative mission.

    “We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them,” Sullivan said.

    “It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government," he added "To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak."

    Sullivan's comments echoed those of ex-president Donald Trump's former secretary of state Mike Pompeo earlier this week, who attacked the WHO team's initial assessment that the deadly coronavirus strain most likely originated in animals and not in a Wuhan laboratory, as Trump claimed.

    Pompeo said Trump ended US involvement in the WHO, an agency of the United Nations, "because we came to believe it was corrupt, it had been politicised, it was bending the knee to General Secretary Xi Jinping in China".

    Sullivan attempted to distance the new administration from the previous one Biden derided during his election campaign — while justifying a continuation of its confrontational approach over the pandemic.

    “President Biden rejected and reversed the Trump Administration’s decision to disengage from the WHO,” Sullivan insisted. “But re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards. And at this critical moment, protecting the WHO’s credibility is a paramount priority.”

    The national security chief insisted “all countries, including China, should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies — so that the world learns as much as possible as soon as possible.”

    On Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus backtracked on his team's comments at a press conference in Wuhan on Tuesday, insisting they were not ruling out any possible origin for COVID-19. He said a summary report would be published next week followed by a full report weeks later.

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    Tags:
    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Joe Biden, Wuhan, World Health Organization (WHO), Jake Sullivan, China, coronavirus, COVID-19
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