UPDATE 2-China urges United States to fulfil its WHO obligation

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BEIJING, April 15 (Reuters) - China urged the United States on Wednesday to fulfil its obligations to the World Health Organization (WHO), after U.S. President Donald Trump halted funding to the body over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked at a regular daily briefing whether China would step in to fill the shortfall, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was noncommittal.

“China will look into relevant issues according to the needs of the situation,” he said.

The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.

Zhao said the pandemic, which has infected nearly 2 million people globally, was at a critical stage and that Washington’s decision would affect all countries of the world.

“This decision weakens the WHO’s capability and harms international cooperation in guarding against the epidemic. Every country in the world is affected, including the U.S. and especially those with fragile capacities,” he said,

“We urge the U.S. to earnestly fulfil its duties and obligations.” (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Alex Richardson)