- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

President Trump spoke on Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in about their nations’ efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and South Korea’s government said Mr. Trump asked for medical equipment from Seoul.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a Blue House spokesman, said Mr. Trump expressed the hope to Mr. Moon that South Korea “could provide medical equipment support.”

Mr. Moon replied that his government would provide “maximum support” to the U.S. if available, but pointed out that approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might be required, the report said.

Mr. Trump said he would take immediate action for that “within today,” said Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok.

Yonhap noted that South Korea has been praised for its effective and swift response to the spread of the virus, including advanced testing capabilities, and has been exporting test kits to several countries.



South Korea, where the outbreak hit earlier than the U.S., has reported more than 9,000 cases of the COVID-19 disease, with 120 deaths. The U.S. now has more than 46,000 cases and 593 deaths.

The White House readout of the 23-minute phone call made no specific mention of Mr. Trump asking for medical supplies from South Korea. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said

Mr. Trump “reiterated his commitment to employ the full weight of the United States government and work with global leaders to save lives and restore economic growth.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said by today the U.S. will have conducted more tests for COVID-19 in eight days than South Korea conducted in eight weeks. She said South Korea likely conducted about 290,000 total tests, and the U.S. will be more than 300,000 on Thursday.

“We have to do more, we understand that,” she said on a video town hall hosted by Fox News at the White House.

Mr. Moon said the establishment of a $60 billion currency swap between the two countries earlier this week was a “very timely” move to help stabilize international financial markets, Yonhap reported.

It was their first phone call this year.

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