EU to give €20 million to aid sanctions-hit Iran in coronavirus fight

European Union to send € 20 million in humanitarian aid to Iran, subject to US sanctions, to help ease coronavirus epidemic, and to support request for Tehran IMF financial assistance said the EU’s highest diplomat on Monday.

“We have not been able to provide a lot of humanitarian aid, but there is around 20 million euros in the pipeline … which we plan to deliver in the coming weeks,” said the chief of EU foreign policy, Josep Borrell, at a video press conference. Monday.

“We also agree to support Iran’s and also Venezuela’s request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support,” he said after a videoconference of the foreign ministers of the EU, without giving more details.

Iran is the Middle East nation hardest hit by coronavirus, the country’s balance sheet increased Monday to 1812, including 127 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for the health ministry said on Monday. on public television, adding that the total number of people infected in the country had reached 23,049.

“American leaders are lying,” says Rouhani

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that the United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iranto contain the coronavirus epidemic, adding that Iran has no intention of accepting the offer. humanitarian aid from Washington.

“American leaders are lying … If they want to help Iran, all they have to do is lift the sanctions … Then we can deal with the coronavirus epidemic,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Washington has offered humanitarian aid to its longtime enemy. But the country’s supreme leader, the supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected the offer on Sunday.

The tension between the two countries has been high since 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump left Tehran’s nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy.

Iranian officials have accused the U.S. sanctions of hampering efforts to curb the epidemic. Rouhani urged the Americans to call on their governments to lift the sanctions while Iran fights the coronavirus.

Direct message from Washington

But the United States has sent a direct message to Iran: the spread of the virus will not save it from American sanctions that stifle its oil revenues and isolate its economy.

“You have blocked Iranian oil exports, you have stopped Iran’s banking transactions … Your offer of help is the biggest lie in history,” said Rouhani.

Although police said millions of people defied advice to avoid traveling for the Persian New Year vacation, Rouhani praised the Iranians for avoiding public places during the holidays. The Iranian New Year started on Friday.

Even those who traveled stayed at the homes of their loved ones, said Rouhani.

Army called to help

The government on Sunday ordered the closure of shopping centers in Tehran, where only pharmacies and stores that supplied essential items remain open.

The Iranian military has been ordered to open a 2,000-bed hospital in Tehran “within two days for the treatment of coronavirus patients,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.

The epidemic has infected a number of senior government officials, politicians, clerics, members of the elite revolutionary guards and dozens of lawmakers in Iran. At least a dozen of them died from the coronavirus.

“Lawmakers were infected because they visited their cities and were in close contact with people before the parliamentary elections on February 21,” Ali Larijani, speaker of parliament, told state television.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)