US President Donald Trump on Monday said his government has asked pharmaceutical companies to "accelerate" their efforts to create a coronavirus vaccine.

His remarks came at the Oval Office alongside Colombia's President Ivan Duque before reports that six people have died of the disease in Washington state.

"We are working very hard with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC, with everyone on a subject that has become a big subject," Trump said, emphasizing that the US and its professionals are doing "very well".

Noting that he will meet the pharmaceutical companies later on Monday afternoon, Trump said: "We have a big meeting with the biggest companies. Really, the most powerful companies -- hopefully the smartest companies -- anywhere in the world when it comes to drugs and vaccines, because we’re talking about a vaccine."

"Maybe a cure; it’s possible. So we’ll see about that. But we’re talking about a vaccine," he added.

Trump also said that his administration asked companies to "accelerate whatever they’re doing, in terms of a vaccine."

Asked whether it was safe for him to continue to hold campaign rallies amid coronavirus outbreak, Trump responded: "Well, these were set up a long time ago. And others are. I mean, you could ask that to the Democrats because they’re having a lot of rallies. They’re all having rallies. That’s what they’re doing. They’re campaigning."

"I think it’s very safe" to hold rallies,” Trump added.

Inter-Afghan talks

To a question about peace process in Afghanistan, Trump said that his administration will find out whether the inter-Afghan talks are going to start as planned.

"Well, we’re going to find out. But we’re getting out. We want to get out. We had good meetings with the Taliban. And we are going to be leaving, and we’re going to be bringing our soldiers back home," he said.

He stressed the US has done a "good job in terms of getting rid of terrorists" for almost 20 years and "now it’s up to other countries to get rid of those terrorists."

On Saturday, the US and Taliban inked a landmark peace deal laying out a timetable for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US would reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days and complete withdrawal within 14 months in line with the agreement, according to a joint declaration inked between the US and Afghanistan.

The agreement is expected to lead to talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government, seeking to put an end to the 18-year conflict.


The president also said that Venezuela will be on the agenda of the meeting with his Colombian counterpart Duque.

"One of the things we're talking about is Venezuela. A big subject for us. And they’re treating the people of Venezuela unbelievably badly," Trump said.

"They don’t have water, they don’t have food. They don’t have anything. And we are talking about that. That's a big topic of discussion," he added.

Since the beginning of 2019, Venezuela has been embroiled in political unrest as President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition leader Juan Guaido engage in a power battle amid a dire economic crisis in the Latin American nation.