Trump pledges cooperation with China's Xi after phone call

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE early Friday said that he had a “very good conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping about efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and pledged cooperation with Beijing.

“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet,” Trump tweeted early Friday morning. 

“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!” the president continued.

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Trump’s remarks signaled an effort to ease tensions between the United States and China, which have run high amid the global spread of the virus.

Members of the Trump administration have repeatedly blamed China for withholding information about the virus and thereby hampering the U.S. response to it. A Chinese official also fueled a conspiracy theory blaming the U.S. Army for the virus.

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Trump himself has at times called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” a move that has sparked criticism. Trump has refrained from using the term in recent days amid reports of racist and xenophobic behavior toward Chinese Americans.

The coronavirus, widely believed to have originated in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, at the end of last year, has spread to more than 150 countries. The U.S. currently leads the world in cases, with around 86,000 cases reported domestically. More than 1,000 people have died of the virus in the U.S.

Top Trump administration officials including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Esper says 'most believe' Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says 'nobody knows yet' what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID'd as fourth military COVID-19 death Meadows defends Trump's description of Beirut explosion as an 'attack' Pompeo urges US companies to block downloads of Chinese apps MORE and national security adviser Robert O’Brien have blamed China for suppressing information about the coronavirus early on, pointing to reports of efforts to silence doctors who sounded alarms about the virus.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Pompeo and other Group of Seven foreign ministers had sparred over the secretary of State’s request to label the coronavirus the “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement. 

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry also suggested that it might have the U.S. Army that brought the coronavirus to China, further stoking tensions.

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Trump earlier Thursday held an emergency teleconference with the leaders of the Group of 20 nations, including Xi, to discuss global efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Asked Thursday if Xi had asked Trump to scale back his rhetoric on the virus, Trump said no one had spoken to him about it.

He defended calling the virus the “Chinese virus,” saying that the disease came from China, while also touting his “very good relationship” with Xi. Trump also pointed to ongoing trade negotiations, which were the source of tension between Washington and Beijing last year before the two sides announced a “phase one” deal to ease back tariffs.