U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that the Group of Seven economies during a virtual meeting discussed what he said was a "disinformation campaign" by Beijing on what he referred to as the quote "Wuhan coronavirus." The outbreak began in Wuhan, Hubei province late last year and Pompeo repeated previous charges that China had delayed sharing important information, that critics say could have been critical to slowing the spread.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO SAYING: "There was a lot of discussion today amongst the G7, about the intentional disinformation campaign that China has been and continues to be engaged in.
You see it in social media, in remarks from senior people inside the Chinese Communist Party talking about this was U.S. 'brought' to China.
I mean, this is crazy talk." Pompeo appeared to dodge a question from a journalist about a report that said he wanted to refer to the coronavirus as the quote "Wuhan coronavirus" in a joint statement from the G7.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REPORTER SAYING: "The German magazine Der Spiegel was saying that at the G7 that you wanted them to use the term "Wuhan virus," and that perhaps caused some rift among the partners.
Is that the case, and do you believe that the nomenclature is that important that it needs to be in an international document?" (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO SAYING: "And with respect to the statement, I always think about these meetings the right answer is to make sure we have the same message coming out of it.
I am confident that when you hear the other six foreign ministers speak, they will have a common understanding of what we talked about today and we will talk about the things that we have agreement on, and I'm sure they'll express a handful of places - like the JCPOA - where we have tactical differences about - to achieve our strategic outcomes." Trump last week defended referring to the coronavirus as the quote "Chinese virus." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "China tried to say, at one point -- maybe they stopped now -- that it was caused by American soldiers.
That can't happen.
It's not going to happen.
Not as long as I'm president.
It comes from China." Despite the rhetoric, Pompeo said now was not the time for pointing fingers, but to focus on ways to resolve the crisis, which has infected over 400,000 and killed nearly 20,000 worldwide.