China, Rus­sia, U.S. clash at U.N. over re­sponses to virus

The Times-Tribune - - NATION & WORLD - BY EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NA­TIONS — China, the United States and Rus­sia butted heads at the United Na­tions on Thurs­day over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the pan­demic that has in­ter­rupted the world, trad­ing al­le­ga­tions about who mis­han­dled and politi­cized the virus in one of the few real-time ex­changes among top of­fi­cials at this year’s Covid-dis­tanced U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly meet­ing.

The re­marks at the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s min­is­te­rial meet­ing on the assem­bly’s side­lines came just af­ter U.N. Sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res de­cried the lack of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in tack­ling the still “out-of-con­trol” coro­n­avirus.

The sharp ex­changes, at the end of a vir­tual meet­ing on “Post COVID-19 Global Gov­er­nance,” re­flected the deep di­vi­sions among the three veto-wield­ing coun­cil mem­bers that have es­ca­lated since the virus first emerged in the Chi­nese city of Wuhan in Jan­uary.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi, speak­ing first, stressed the im­por­tance of U.n.-cen­tered mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and al­luded to coun­tries — in­clud­ing the U.S. — opt­ing out of mak­ing a COVID-19 vac­cine a global public good avail­able to peo­ple ev­ery­where.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov said the pan­demic and its “com­mon mis­for­tune did not iron out in­ter­state dif­fer­ences, but to the con­trary deep­ened them.”

In a whole num­ber of coun­tries there is a temp­ta­tion to look abroad for those who are re­spon­si­ble for their own in­ter­nal prob­lems,” he said.

The United States’ U.N. am­bas­sador, Kelly Craft, opened her re­marks late in the meet­ing with a blunt re­join­der.

“Shame on each of you. I am as­ton­ished and dis­gusted by the con­tent of to­day’s dis­cus­sion,” Craft said. She said some rep­re­sen­ta­tives were “squan­der­ing this op­por­tu­nity for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.”

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