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Australia discusses intl probe into coronavirus pandemic with US, France & Germany

Australia discusses intl probe into coronavirus pandemic with US, France & Germany

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought support for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic in phone calls with US President Donald Trump and the German and French leaders, the Australian government said on Wednesday.

Australia’s push for an independent review of the origins and spread of the pandemic, including the response of the World Health Organization, has drawn sharp criticism from China, which has accused Australian lawmakers of taking instructions from the US, Reuters said.

Morrison tweeted on Wednesday he had “a very constructive discussion” with Trump on the two nations' responses to Covid-19 and the need to get economies up and running. “We also talked about the WHO & working together to improve the transparency & effectiveness of the international responses to pandemics,” he added. The Trump administration has been fiercely critical of China and the WHO, and has withdrawn US funding from the UN agency.

Ties between Australia and China have soured in recent years, with Canberra being the first government to exclude telecoms equipment maker Huawei from its 5G network. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, buying more than one-third of the country’s total exports, particularly iron ore and coal.