Apr 15, 2020, 1:28 PM
Journalist ID: 2374
News Code: 83751942
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Iran expects India, world community to stand up against US sanctions: Envoy

Tehran, April 15, IRNA – Iranian Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni elaborated on Iran-India cooperation to fight coronavirus, saying Iran expects India and the international community to stand against US sanctions.

Chegeni made the remarks in an interview with Indian media ‘Hindustan Times’.

“Iran expects India and the rest of the world community will stand against stand against the “unjust” US sanctions that are hurting millions of Iranians amid the Covid-19 crisis, Iranian diplomat was quoted as saying.

Elaborating on the current situation in Iran in time of COVID19 outbreak, Chegeni said, “Despite the brutal and inhumane US sanctions, our situation is relatively good in fighting the pandemic in comparison with some other countries.”

“Keep in your mind, we could not take advantage of the experiences of others while Iran was among the countries hardest hit by the highly contagious virus in the first phase of spreading of Covid-19 across the globe,” he added.

“Now, hopefully the curve shows that the pandemic is falling [from] the peak as the number of new infection cases have dropped from 3,200 to 1,600 on a daily basis. Besides, there are around 48,000 recovery cases out of a total of 74,000 as of now.”

Commenting on the measures taken by Iranian government to prevent th spread of the pandemic, he said: “From the very beginning of the outbreak, a National Committee for Fighting Coronavirus (NCFC) was set up, headed by the President, to make detailed and practical decisions against the spread of Coronavirus.”

“In this regard, all internal powers from the military and law enforcement forces to the NGOs etc were mobilised. All political and economic events, cultural activities, sports contests, and religious congregations were postponed at the order of the committee,” he noted.

“After some strict lockdown measures, the NCFC announced the Smart Social Distancing scheme with the aim of reopening low-risk businesses for provinces other than Tehran,” Chegeni said adding: “For this purpose, the ministry of health has been coordinating with business unions to register in a system and if eligible, they will receive a certificate for doing their business on the basis of health protocols.”

“Most importantly, an Iranian biomedicine company has started mass production of serological test kits which are very much needed to detect the rate of infection among various groups of the population.”

“Moreover, considering the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the religious gatherings will be cancelled, in case it is considered unsafe for public health and the NCFC would decide on the details of this issue in its upcoming meeting.”

Regarding the areas of cooperation between Iran and India to fight coronavirus, he said:  “Given the capabilities of both countries, we can deploy the full strength of relations to effectively combat Covid-19. As you know, for many years we have been importing pharmaceutical products from India and we are confident that our cooperation will continue.”

“The close consultations of both countries’ health ministers and sharing experiences and the lessons learned in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic is very important and it could be more effective in a regional initiative,” Chegeni noted.

“We could also cooperate on the development of medicines and vaccines as we do share great scientific and technological capacities together with research and development centres in our countries.”

“Considering the unpredictability of the situation, it is important to look at possible options to continue exchanges of goods and commodities according to uniform health protocols. Moreover, this ongoing pandemic could be a way forward to boost mutual economic cooperation and partnership.”

In response to a question regarding the health condition of Indian nationals in Iran, Chegeni said: “Since the citizens of both countries have been engaging in a deep-rooted people-to-people contacts for different purposes, I am happy to say that Indians have always been respected and warmly welcomed by Iranian people and the government. It was expected that many would be stranded as result of the epidemic.”

“Both countries, in a close and warm contact, have worked together to evacuate their stranded nationals and until now, eight batches of Indian nationals were transferred to India by seven Iranian airliners and one aircraft of the Indian Air Force, and the local authorities and Indian missions in Iran are providing all possible humanitarian assistance to the remaining Indians, including pilgrims, students and fisherman.”

“From the very beginning, the government of Iran along with some local NGOs rushed to meet their accommodation, food and treatment.”

“Recently they have been accommodated in some good hotels and guesthouse advised by Qom governorate under supervision and credit of Indian embassy in Tehran.”

“Those who have tested positive, have been immediately hospitalised and offered the necessary medical treatment free of charge by Iran’s government. Indian embassy is following their situation closely.”

He also referred to the condition of the Iranians who were stranded in India, saying: “Every year, especially during Nowruz festival, many Iranian tourists travel to India. However, this year coincided with the Coronavirus pandemic and consequently limits on international flights.”

“Thanks to cooperation of the Indian authorities, we have been able to evacuate a majority of them. Still there are around 200 Iranian tourists and students who, at this stage, requested the embassy for their immediate return to Iran. We expect to send them back home by an Iran Air flight from Mumbai in the coming days.”

For much of the interview, Chegeni pointed to impact of US sanctions on fighting coronavirus, saying: “The Iranian health sector, although among the most resilient in the region and the world, has been affected directly and indirectly by these unjust, illegal and inhumane sanctions.”

“In a hypocritical way, the US administration has claimed that humanitarian supplies, including food and medicine, are exempted from anti-Iran sanctions, but freezing Iran’s financial assets in various countries, banning Iranian banks and denying Iran’s access to SWIFT for funds transfer and clear threats against several foreign banks have deterred them from doing any such humanitarian businesses with Tehran.”

“More important for the stay at home order, we needed to support the people by relief packages but as I mentioned, Iran’s assets have been blocked by the US administration.

“So far, many prestigious foreign officials and international figures have called for the lifting of sanctions. We expect that the international community, including India, [will] stand against the unjust and extraterritorially imposed sanctions that are hurting millions of Iranians as well as other nations who have been paying a high price in this time of pandemic,” he reiterated.

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