Pompeo says not time for retribution against China over virus

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that it is too soon to talk about the consequences for China for what U.S. officials believe is Beijing’s slow reporting of the extent of the coronavirus crisis in China.

Pompeo, addressing a White House news briefing with President Donald Trump, said the United States has repatriated 50,000 American citizens stranded around the world by various shutdowns related to the virus and that there are still several thousand more to bring back.

Asked about consequences for China, Pompeo said: “This is not the time for retribution. But it is still the time for clarity and transparency.”

China reported only about 3,000 deaths from the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, a figure Trump and other officials doubt given high death tolls in other countries.

Reporting by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft