Top US, European lawmakers call for global unity in COVID response

Top US, European lawmakers call for global unity in COVID response
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Top lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic released a joint statement Friday calling for countries worldwide to reject isolationism and work together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement was signed by foreign affairs committee chairmen from the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union and stressed safeguarding transatlantic relationships built in the aftermath of World War II to combat threats posed by bad actors trying to exploit the health crisis.

"Would-be authoritarians and strongmen are using the crisis to consolidate power and crack down on the rights and freedoms of their people, political opponents, and the independent press. And proponents of closed, inward looking systems seek to blame this crisis on the openness of our democracies and the expansiveness of our global friendships. It is vitally important that we do not let them," the lawmakers wrote, without mentioning any countries or or leaders by name.

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“We cannot allow ourselves to be consumed by the crisis we face and forget the history and friendship that have helped us prosper for decades, or we open the door for our adversaries to rewrite the rules in their own authoritarian images,” they added.

The statement was signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelMany Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report MORE (D-N.Y.), European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David McAllister, German Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Norbert Röttgen and Tom Tugendhat, chair of the British House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs.

A spokeswoman for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch (R-Idaho) was not asked to sign on the joint statement, a committee spokeswoman told The Hill.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee declined to comment on the process of collecting signatures for the statement.

“Our choices and actions in this difficult time will affect the international environment for years to come,” the U.S. and European lawmakers wrote. “Therefore, we must once again show global leadership and renew confidence in multilateral cooperation and solidarity, the latter being crucial to overcoming a crisis of this scope.”

The remarks follow President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE's announcement last month that the U.S. would halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) for a period of 60 to 90 days to look into the agency's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The move has drawn backlash from Democrats and even some Republicans, who say a global health crisis is not the time to pause funding.

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But U.S. allies like Australia and the U.K. have joined calls for an investigation into the WHO’s handling of the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, and Beijing's response to the virus spread.

The calls for investigations have angered China, with the country threatening a boycott of Australian goods.

The four lawmakers in Friday's statement called for world leaders to rise above their disagreements and instead cooperate on improving “economic, healthcare and scientific tools to protect our people; and to stand up for the values that bind us together.”

It is not the first time the lawmakers have issued a joint statement. In October, they condemned Turkey's invasion of northern Syria. The chair of French National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs signed that statement as well.

Updated at 12:35 p.m.