Top officials of the World Health Organization on Thursday slammed “unacceptable” comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who alleged that China had co-opted the WHO.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the claims made Tuesday in London by Pompeo that China had “co-opted international institutions like the World Health Organization” were untrue and a distraction from the global coronavirus pandemic response.

“The comments are untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation for that matter,” Tedros said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Gevena headquarters on Thursday. “WHO will not be distracted by these comments and we don’t want the international community also to be distracted.”

Tedros has repeatedly defended the WHO against criticism of its response to the coronavirus. U.S. President Donald Trump and others have alleged the U.N. health agency has a favorable relationship with China, where the virus emerged at the end of 2019. Tedros reiterated comments on Thursday that the politicization of the pandemic is one of the greatest threats to the global response.

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