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Russia raps US for obstructing IMF’s loan to Iran, Syria amid COVID-19 pandemic

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo taken on March 27, 2020 An exterior view of the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. The growing use of export restrictions by governments can be "dangerously counterproductive" as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, the IMF and WTO warned on April 24, 2020.

A senior Russian diplomat has slammed the US for obstructing a loan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Iran and Syria to help them in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"The US move, which is politically motivated to block the transfer of loans, including emergency financing in the face of a humanitarian crisis, to countries such as Iran and Syria, is unacceptable,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin told Rossiya Segodnya on Monday.

Pankin stressed that the IMF must take a transparent and non-discriminatory approach to granting loans to the needy and vulnerable amid the pandemic.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, earlier announced that the IMF has allocated a $50 billion emergency loan package for countries most affected by the coronavirus.

The Islamic Republic that has lost more than 6,000 people to the infection so far has put out a request for a $5 billion loan, but Washington has -- in line with its changeless anti-Tehran policy and maximum pressure campaign -- opposed dispensation of the sum by the world body.

The US move has been widely condemned by both Iranian and world officials.

A few weeks ago, the European Union censured the United States for refusing to ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic and blocking the IMF loan to Iran to help it fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We supported first to soften the sanctions and second, the request by Iran to the International Monetary Fund for financial help," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a virtual news conference after a video conference of EU foreign ministers on April 22.

"I regret that the Americans are, at this stage, opposing the International Monetary Fund from taking this decision. From a humanitarian point of view, this request should have been accepted," he added.

Iran’s top security official said on April 25 that the US blocking of Iran’s request for a loan from the IMF violates the rule governing right to health.

“US opposition to #Iran's loan request from the #IMF is a violation of the Peremptory Norm of Right to Health,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said in a tweet, adding, "Third-party governments have 2 obligations: To cut ties with the violating government & to take action to resolve the illegal situation."

Despite the hardships it is suffering due to the US sanctions, Iran has been doing its utmost to contain COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

Tehran has repeatedly said it does not seek Washington’s help in the fight, but wants the White House to lift the illegal economic sanctions so that Iran could mobilize its own resources to tackle the pandemic.

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