Rouhani: U.S. should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran fight coronavirus

By Parisa Hafezi DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, adding that Iran had no intention of accepting Washington's offer of humanitarian assistance.

Reuters March 24, 2020 00:16:45 IST
Rouhani: U.S. should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran fight coronavirus

Rouhani US should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran fight coronavirus

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, adding that Iran had no intention of accepting Washington's offer of humanitarian assistance.

Iran is the Middle Eastern nation worst hit by coronavirus, with over 1,800 deaths and 23,049 infected people. One person is dying from the virus every 10 minutes, according to the health ministry.

"American leaders are lying ... If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions .... Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak," Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Washington has offered humanitarian assistance to its longtime foe. But the country's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday rejected the offer.

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

Iranian authorities have blamed U.S. sanctions for hampering its efforts to curb the outbreak and Rouhani has urged Americans to call on their government to lift sanctions as Iran fights the coronavirus.

"U.S. is NOT listening, impeding global fight against #COVID19. The ONLY remedy: DEFY U.S. mass punishment. MORAL & PRAGMATIC imperative," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday.

But the United States has sent Iran a blunt message: the spread of the virus will not save it from U.S. sanctions that are choking off its oil revenues and isolating its economy.

"You have blocked Iran's oil exports, you have stopped Iran's banking transactions ... Your help offer is the biggest lie in the history," Rouhani said.

Although police said millions of people have defied advice to avoid traveling for the Persian new year holidays, Rouhani praised Iranians for avoiding public places during the holidays. Iran's new year started on Friday.

Even those who traveled stayed at homes of their relatives, Rouhani said.

On Sunday, the government ordered shopping centres to close in Tehran, where only pharmacies and shops that provided essential goods remain open.

Iran's Army has been ordered to set up a hospital with 2,000 beds in Tehran "within two days for the treatment of the coronavirus patients", the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.

The outbreak has infected a number of senior officials, politicians, clerics, members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and dozens of lawmakers in Iran. At least a dozen of them have died from the coronavirus.

"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 21," Parliament speaker Ali Larijani told state TV.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Larry King)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.