UPDATE 1-Planning to quit, U.S. says it will not pay what it owes WHO this year

WASHINGTON, Sept 2- The United States will not pay some $80 million it owes the World Health Organization and will instead redirect the money to help pay its United Nations bill in New York, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The United States plans to leave the Geneva- based WHO on July 6, 2021, after President Donald Trump accused it of becoming a puppet for China…

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The United States will not

pay some $80 million it owes the World Health Organization (WHO)

and will instead redirect the money to help pay its United

Nations bill in New York, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

The United States plans to leave the Geneva-based WHO onJuly 6, 2021, after President Donald Trump accused it ofbecoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic. TheWHO has rejected Trump’s assertion.

A WHO spokeswoman said on Thursday in an email response to arequest for comment: “We refer you to our previous statements ofregret regarding the U.S. decision to withdraw. We await furtherdetails, which we will consider carefully.”

Under a 1948 joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, Trumphad to give one-year notice of the U.S. withdrawal from the WHOand is required to pay what Washington’s owes for theorganization’s current fiscal year.

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

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

Lawrence Gostin, a university professor at Georgetown Law inWashington, D.C., said in a tweet that redirecting WHO funds is”unethical…and patently unlawful”. The United States had tomeet all financial obligations, he said, adding: “Trump isacting unilaterally, w/o (without) Congress & in violation ofthe law”.

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

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

Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden,has said he will rejoin the WHO if he defeats Trump in the U.S.presidential election on Nov. 3.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Humeyra Pamuk; Additionalreporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by LisaShumaker and Timothy Heritage)

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