President Donald Trump urged world leaders to hold China accountable for the spread of the coronavirus in a video address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.
Trump urged other leaders to put their own countries first, a message that echoed his “America First” campaign mantra.
“Only when you take care of your own citizens will you find a true basis for cooperation,” Trump said.
“As president, I have rejected the failed approaches of the past — and I am proudly putting America first, just as you should be putting your countries first. That’s OK. That’s what you should be doing.”
But it was the coronavirus that was the core of Trump’s address.
Trump cast blame on China, accusing the Chinese government of failing to contain the outbreak that started in the central city of Wuhan.
“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” Trump said.
China’s U.N. ambassador rejected criticism of its handling of the virus as “totally baseless.”
“At this moment, the world needs more solidarity and cooperation, and not a confrontation,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said before introducing President Xi Jinping’s prerecorded speech.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world faces the risk of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China.
“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities,” Guterres said.
“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs.”
Trump’s U.N. address came as he faces a fight over a Supreme Court nomination and a heated reelection campaign.
The Republican president is running behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in some polls, but he told the U.N. General Assembly that he’d be back next year.
“I am supremely confident that next year, when we gather in person, we will be in the midst of one of the greatest years in our history,” Trump said.
On Monday, Trump declared that all U.N. sanctions against Iran have been reimposed.
“My actions today send a clear message to the Iranian regime and those in the international community who refuse to stand up to Iran,” he said.
Trump briefly highlighted agreements his administration brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The president also mentioned the U.S. brokering of economic cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo.
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