- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2020

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged in a phone call early Friday to cooperate in the battle against the coronavirus, a sign of easing tensions between the two nations.

“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

Mr. Trump has refrained in recent days using the phrase “Chinese virus” to describe the outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China. He told Fox News he would stop using the term but didn’t regret it, noting that China blamed U.S. soldiers for starting the pandemic.

The U.S. this week passed China in the number of reported coronavirus cases, with more than 85,000. China has reported 3,296 deaths, compared with 1,296 in the U.S.

Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump in the phone call that relations between the two sides were at a “critical moment,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. He vowed to help the U.S.

“I am very worried about the outbreak in the U.S., and I’ve noticed the series of measures being taken by the U.S. president,” Mr. Xi said, according to Xinhua. “Chinese people sincerely hope the outbreak can be contained very soon. Both sides will benefit if we cooperate. Both will lose if we fight each other.”

The Chinese leader said cooperation “is the only correct choice.”

“I hope the U.S side could take real actions. The two sides should work together to enhance cooperation fighting the virus and develop non-confrontational” relations, he said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday criticized “the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try to deflect from what has really taken place here.”

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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