Trump calls S. Korean leader for coronavirus medical supplies

2020.03.25 10:32:06 | 2020.03.25 10:32:51

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U.S. President Donald Trump called South Korean President Moon Jae-in to ask for medical equipment support in the U.S. amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus there, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

The 23-minute telephone call took place at 10 p.m. Korean time at the urgent request of Trump. Moon said South Korea would provide “maximum support within available resources,” according to Kang Min-seok, spokesperson for the presidential Blue House.

Moon said the shipments might need the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Trump responded they would be cleared “within the day.”

The equipment requested was not specified but they are likely to include COVID-19 testing kits. Korea has the capacity to produce more than 120,000 kits a day, with 15,000 required for domestic demand. Korea has already received a flood of requests from more than 30 countries, including Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

Korea suffered from a massive outbreak in late February but was able to slow the spread of the virus through aggressive testing. The number of new infections in the country has hovered below 100 for the past two weeks.

As infections continue to surge in the United States and Europe, countries have faced a major shortage of testing kits and protective gear for medical workers. The U.S. now has the third-largest number of confirmed cases after China and Italy, with more than 50,000 patients and 775 deaths as of Wednesday.

Moon and Trump also discussed the virtual G-20 summit to take place on Thursday, the Blue House said.

Moon is pushing the agenda to allow special entries for businesspeople amid the tightened travel restrictions and border shutdowns due to the coronavirus.

“To minimize the impact on the global economy, we need to cooperate internationally to allow trade and business activities to continue in a way that does not interfere with the virus control efforts of each country,” Moon told Trump, according to the Blue House statement.

Prior to the phone call with Trump, Moon talked with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam, who would be chairing the virtual summit of G-20 leaders, to forward the agenda.

By Park Yong-beom, Kim Sung-hoon and Kim Hyo-jin

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