July 8, 2020 / 9:38 AM / a month ago

WHO's Tedros pulls out of UK event after U.S. confirms to exit WHO

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pulled out of a London event at the last minute on Wednesday after organisers said he had to attend meetings linked to the U.S. notification of its withdrawal from the WHO.

The event at London’s Chatham House think tank had been due to feature Tedros in a live webinar about the COVID-19 pandemic led by David Heymann, a former senior WHO official and a professor of global health.

Heymann told the online event: “I have been in touch with his (Tedros’) office on another issue (this morning), and I was told he has a series of diplomatic meetings today which is the result of the U.S. withdrawal.”

Tedros’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The United States confirmed on Tuesday that it will leave the WHO on July 6, 2021. U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the agency of becoming a puppet for China during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO denies this.

Reporting by Kate Kelland and Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Alison Williams and Timothy Heritage

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