The World Health Organization said today it would like to take part in Chinese investigations into the origins of the coronavirus.
The UN agency said it was hoping for an invitation from Beijing to take part in its probe into how the disease originated in animals, then jumped to humans.
President Donald Trump yesterday said he has seen evidence that coronavirus started in the Wuhan virology laboratory and warned he could impose tariffs of $1 trillion on China in retribution for the pandemic.
It came after US intelligence said it found no evidence the virus was man-made or genetically modified in a laboratory.
Today WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic the agency wants to be part of the Chinese scientific research.
He said: 'WHO would be keen to work with international partners and at the invitation of the Chinese government to participate in investigation around the animal origins.'
President Trump taking questions from reporters after speaking about the coronavirus pandemic in the East Room of the White House in Washington yesterday
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China's Hubei province, in February
Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva. The WHO said it wants to take part in the Chinese investigations
The president made his explosive allegation that the coronavirus that has caused millions of infections and wreaked havoc on the global economy may have been created in the Chinese lab during his coronavirus press briefing on Thursday.
He also suggested the federal government is exploring ways to punish China for triggering the outbreak by imposing tariffs but he stopped short of saying he would refuse to pay back US debts.
'Yes I have. Yes I have,' Trump said when asked if he had seen proof the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Technology.
The lab is located near a wet market that has been identified as the likely epicenter of the outbreak that took place late last year.
However, the president would not divulge what the evidence was that confirmed his suspicions, when asked by a reporter.
'I can't tell you that. I am not allowed to tell you that,' he responded.
When asked if he would consider refusing to pay US's debts to China as punishment, the president said he 'could do it differently' and suggested the US will impose high tariffs of around $1 trillion on the nation.
'I could do the same thing but even for more money just putting on tariffs,' he said.
'So I don't need to do that. It's approximately a trillion dollars - a little bit more I understand but we can do that in probably a little bit more of a forthright manner.'
President Trump said Thursday he has seen evidence that coronavirus started in the Wuhan virology laboratory, as he warned he could impose tariffs of $1 trillion on China in retribution for the pandemic
Trump said withholding debt payments would be a 'rough game' that could damage the 'sanctity' of the dollar and ruled out taking this approach.
'You start playing those games and that's tough,' he continued.
'We have the dollar to protect. We want to protect the sanctity of the dollar, the importance of the dollar. It's the greatest currency in the history of the world.'
The president continued: 'It's a good question to say, 'well oh gee, we owe you a certain amount of money, we're going to keep it'. But when you start playing that game you really start hurting the sanctity of the greatest currency on earth but we can do it in other ways.
'We can do it with tariffs. We can do it with other ways beyond that without having to play that game - that's a rough game.'
Trump's comments came after reports emerged that US administration officials were discussing canceling US debt obligations to China.
US intelligence officials and government agencies were scheduled to meet Thursday to come up with a plan to punish or demand financial compensation from China over the pandemic, two sources told the Washington Post.
One option on the table was to cancel the debt, while another was to strip China of its 'sovereign immunity'.
George Sorial, who formerly served as a top executive at the Trump Organization and has filed a class-action lawsuit against China, told The Post senior White House officials were discussing limiting China's sovereign immunity so that the government could sue China for damages over the pandemic.
This file photo taken on February 23, 2017 shows Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China's Hubei province. Trump has touted the theory the lab may be the origin of the coronavirus
'Punishing China is definitely where the president's head is at right now,' one senior adviser said.
A source also told Reuters a range of options are being discussed to punish China, with the State Department, White House National Security Council, Treasury Department and Pentagon, developing options.
'There is a discussion as to how hard to hit China and how to calibrate it