By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged further cooperation in the midst of the daunting coronavirus pandemic, the White House said Friday.
During the Thursday evening telephone call, Trump and Xi "reiterated their commitment to cooperate to protect lives and livelihoods," it said in a statement issued as the global death toll mounts with the U.S. surpassing China and Italy for known COVID-19 cases.
"The two leaders agreed to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and restore global health and prosperity," it added.
Trump early Friday morning said he and Xi "just finished a very good conversation."
"Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!" he said.
His remarks and the White House statement are in stark contrast to the rhetoric Trump and his top officials have been employing in the midst of the pandemic.
Trump has repeatedly called the coronavirus the "Chinese virus," despite warnings that using the language could result in anti-Chinese and anti-Chinese American hostility and violence.
G7 foreign ministers were reportedly unable to issue a joint statement after meeting Wednesday due to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's insistence that the text label the virus the "Wuhan virus," a reference to the Chinese city where it originated in December.
The group's other foreign ministers objected to its use.
There are 553,244 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, including 25,251 deaths, according to a running tally being compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
After first appearing in Wuhan late last year the virus has spread to at least 176 countries and regions, the university's data indicates.