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Trump to U.N.: China must be held 'accountable'

TRUMP: "China locked down travel domestically, while allowing flights to leave China, and infect the world."

U.S.-China tensions took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday- held virtually for the first time, with U.S. President Donald Trump blaming China for COVID-19 spreading around the world, in remarks taped the day before.

TRUMP: " We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, "The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization - which is virtually controlled by China - falseldeclared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease ... The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions."

The WHO rejected Trump's claims and China's U.N. ambassador Zhang Jun called Trump's accusations "baseless" and said "lies repeated a thousand times are still lies."

In his pre-recorded address, Chinese President Xi Jinping struck a more diplomatic tone, calling for enhanced international cooperation over the pandemic.

XI JINPING: "We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation."

China has portrayed itself as the chief cheerleader for multilateralism at a time when Trump's disregard for international cooperation has led him to quit global deals on climate and Iran, as well as the U.N. Human Rights Council and the WHO.

Trump and Xi, leaders of the world's two largest economies, used the U.N. General Assembly celebrating the 75th anniversary of the U.N., to lay out competing visions at a time when relations have plunged to their worst level in decades, with coronavirus tensions aggravating trade and technology disputes.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll- by far the highest official number of any country- surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday.