EU backs Iran’s request for IMF loan in coronavirus fight

March 26, 2020 - 22:59

The EU on Monday urged the international community to send humanitarian aid to Iran to help its coronavirus fight, arguing that such steps would not breach U.S. sanctions.

The bloc is preparing to send 20 million euros' ($21.5 million) worth of humanitarian aid to Iran, where new coronavirus has killed more than 2,200 people, making it one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

Josep Borrell, the EU's chief diplomat, said Brussels would support requests for help made by Iran and Venezuela -- also heavily sanctioned -- to the International Monetary Fund, AFP reported.

"We are going to support this request because these countries are in a very difficult situation mainly due to the U.S. sanctions that prevent them from having income by selling their oil," Borrell said after talks with EU foreign ministers.

Tehran and Caracas are both under sweeping U.S. sanctions aimed at starving them of income, but Borrell said that shipments of food, medicine and medical equipment should not be affected.

"This has to be reaffirmed because many believe that if they participate in this kind of humanitarian trade they can be sanctioned," he said.

"This is not the case but it has to be reaffirmed in order for everybody to understand that they can participate in this kind of humanitarian help."

The EU and U.S. have been at loggerheads over Iran since President Donald Trump abruptly withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions and added new ones.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signaled on Twitter that Washington was unreceptive to the Islamic republic's first-ever request for a loan from the IMF, where America effectively holds a veto.