WHO's actions during pandemic led to 'dead Britons': Pompeo

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LONDON: The World Health Organisation's (WHO) actions during the pandemic led to "dead Britons", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers during a trip to London, British media reported yesterday.

Mr Pompeo told a private meeting of MPs on Tuesday that the WHO had become a "political" body, alleging that its decisions were influenced by a deal struck between its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and China that helped him get the post, according to quotes in the Times and Daily Telegraph.

"When push came to shove, when it really mattered most", people died "because of the deal that was made", he said.

Mr Pompeo was in Britain for meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab focused on China, and met some Conservative party MPs during a private morning event.

The WHO said it rejected "ad hominem attacks and unfounded allegations". "WHO urges countries to remain focused on tackling the pandemic that is causing tragic loss of life and suffering," a spokesman for the organisation said on Tuesday, according to the Telegraph.

The US announced this month it would withdraw from the WHO, accusing it of being controlled by China.

Mr Pompeo said on Tuesday the US wants to build a global coalition to counter China.

He cast China as an aggressor, saying it had made illegal martime claims, bullied Himalayan countries, covered up the coronavirus outbreak and exploited it to further its own interests in a "disgraceful" way.

"We hope we can build out a coalition that understands the threat and will work collectively to convince the Chinese Communist Party that it is not in their best interest to engage in this kind of behaviour," Mr Pompeo told reporters alongside Mr Raab.

"We want to see every nation who understands freedom and democracy... to understand this threat that the Chinese Communist Party is posing to them."

Beijing says the West - and Washington in particular - is gripped by anti-Chinese hysteria and colonial thinking about the communist state. - AFP, REUTERS