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Amid plans to quit, U.S. will not pay what it owes WHO this year

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday that it will not pay some $80 million it currently owes to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) and will instead redirect the money to help pay its United Nations bill in New York.

The United States plans to leave WHO on July 6, 2021, after President Donald Trump accused it of becoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO rejected Trump’s assertions.

Under a 1948 joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, Trump had to give one-year notice of the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO and is required to pay what Washington’s owes for the organization’s current fiscal year.

Nerissa Cook, State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs deputy assistant secretary of state, said the United States currently owes the WHO some $18 million for financial year 2019 and $62 million for financial year 2020.

“Those together are being reprogrammed to the U.N. to pay the regular U.N. assessment,” said Cook, referring to money that Washington is required to pay the United Nations in New York.

Dr. Alma Golden, U.S. Agency for International Development assistant administrator for global health, said that in most cases Washington had identified new partners to continue the global health assistance it had carried out with the WHO.

But she said a one-time payment of $68 million would be made to the WHO for health assistance in Libya and Syria and efforts to eradicate polio in priority countries because these “reflect the few cases in which WHO has the unique capability that an alternate partner could not replicate at this time.”

Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, has said he would rejoin the WHO if he defeats Trump in a November election.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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