Merkel, EU back WHO launching negotiations on pandemic pact as Omicron spreads

German Chancellor Merkel and Polish PM Morawiecki speak to reporters in Berlin
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GENEVA (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the World Health Organisation required reliable financing with higher donations from member states, and she backed it launching negotiations for a binding international accord on preventing pandemics.

Merkel was addressing health ministers at the start of a WHO special assembly after its 194 member states reached a tentative consensus to negotiate a future agreement on preventing pandemics, bridging the gap between sides led by the European Union and United States, diplomats said on Sunday.

"As we speak, the global community is faced with the threat of a new, highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, Omicron," Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, told the three-day talks that are expected to conclude on Wednesday with the adoption of the draft resolution on launching negotiations.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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