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Xi, Trump schedule coronavirus talks

2020-03-27 HKT 09:46
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  • Donald Trump speaks at a White House press briefing. Photo: AP
    Donald Trump speaks at a White House press briefing. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump said he will speak by phone with President Xi Jinping on Friday morning as the United States overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus cases.

Trump told a press conference he would be speaking to Xi at about 9am Hong Kong time on Friday.

With 82,404 cases of infection, the United States has now surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.

However Trump cast doubt on this, saying "you don't know what the numbers are in China."

Trump said he and Xi would be discussing the global pandemic and insisted they have a "very good relationship."

However, he touched on a nasty row that has erupted in both countries over blame for the disease.

While Trump has made a point of repeatedly calling Covid-19 the "Chinese virus," because it first blew up in the city of Wuhan, this has angered some in China and sparked accusations of race-baiting at home.

Trump says he is pushing back because a Chinese foreign ministry official has led a conspiracy theory that US soldiers brought the virus to China.

"No it came from China," he underlined on Thursday, although adding, "if they feel so strongly about it, we'll see."

Aside from coronavirus and the massive economic fallout resulting from mass social distancing strategies around the world, Trump and Xi are likely to discuss plans to negotiate a new trade agreement between the world's two biggest economies.

Trump suggested the possibility that Xi may "want to wait" until after the US presidential election in November "to see if Trump gets beaten." (AFP)