WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he greatly respects China and Chinese President Xi Jinping, but it was unfortunate the coronavirus began there and got out of control.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, referring to the “Chinese virus” – a term Trump has used repeatedly, greatly angering Beijing – told the same briefing of the U.S. coronavirus task force that Beijing’s delay in sharing information about the virus had created risks to people worldwide.

Trump said he has a very good relationship with Xi and considered him a friend, while adding: “It’s unfortunate that this got out of control. It came from China, it got out of control. Some people are upset, I know. I know President Xi. He loves China. He respects the United States. And I have to say I respect China greatly and I respect President Xi.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason, Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chris Reese)

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