The Middle Eastern state has suffered over 1,800 virus-related deaths and some 23,000 people have been infected by the disease. Tehran rejected humanitarian aid from the United States as the bitter row with Donald Trump over the 2015 nuclear deal rumbles on despite the global pandemic. But EU foreign policy boss Josep Borrell has vowed to step in and send money to help Iran overcome the impact of coronavirus.
He said: “We’ve not been able to provide a lot of humanitarian help but there is some €20million in the pipeline that we expect to be delivered over the next weeks.
“We also agree in supporting the request by Iran and also by Venezuela to the International Monetary Fund to have financial support.”
Mr Borrell told EU foreign ministers that Brussels will support their requests because their economies have been ruined by US sanctions.
“We are going to support this request because these countries are in a very difficult situation mainly due to the US sanctions that prevent them from having income by selling their oil.”
While the UK continues to pay into the EU’s budget as part of the post-Brexit transition period, British taxpayers will see some of their cash sent as part of the Tehran care package.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Monday told Washington to lift its sanctions if it wants to help the country halt the spread of coronavirus.
He warned Tehran had no intention of accepting any peace offerings of humanitarian aid by President Trump.
“American leaders are lying… if they want to help Iran, all they need to do is lift sanctions… then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak.”
Tensions between the two countries have been at breaking point ever since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions that have blighted the Iranian economy.
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Iran has struggled to contain coronavirus with millions of people in the country ignoring the advice to stop travelling for the Persian New Year holidays.
Last weekend, the government closed shopping centres and only left open shops that sell essential goods and pharmacies open.
The army has been deployed to set up a 2,000-bed emergency hospital in Tehran “within two days for the treatment of coronavirus patients,” according to the Tasnim news agency, which has close links to the state.
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A number of senior officials, politicians and members of the Revolutionary Guard have been struck down by coronavirus.
At least a dozen of them have died after catching the disease.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani told state television: “The lawmakers have been infected because they travelled to their towns and were in close contact with people ahead of the parliamentary election on February 31.”
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