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Qatar sends rare disease drugs to Iran amid US sanctions

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)
File photo shows Qatari medical supplies delivered by Qatar Airways to Imam Khomeini Airport near Tehran in May 2020 during early months of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Iran.

Qatar has supplied Iran with two batched of medicines used for treatment of complicated diseases as Tehran continues to struggle with sanctions imposed by the US which hamper its access to humanitarian items.

Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, who leads a special taskforce for expansion of economic ties with Qatar, said on Sunday that the consignments that had arrived in Tehran overnight and earlier in the day included numerous drugs used for treatment of rare and incurable diseases.

“The second cargo of medical aid from Qatar has arrived in the country in line with the expansion of ties between Iran and Qatar and in continuation of Qatar’s supply of medical aid,” Ardakanian was quoted as saying by Paven news website.

Facing a raft of illegal US sanctions since 2018, Iran has been struggling to pay for urgent medical supplies needed for treatment of patients suffering from rare conditions. The bans effectively bar Iran from accessing the international banking system and prevent foreign companies from providing urgently needed supplies of medicines and equipment to the country.

Iran has used medical aid provided by allied countries in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic since February 2020 although the country has mostly relied on home-grown capacities to contain one of the largest outbreaks of the disease in the world.

Qatar had supplied several consignments of personal protective equipment to Iran during the early months of the pandemic. However,

Battling to get round the complicated web of US sanctions, the Iranian government has gone through extreme lengths to pay for supplies of coronavirus vaccines from COVAX, an international project sponsored by the United Nations health authorities.

Ardakanian said on Saturday that an Iraqi bank which holds more than $5 billion from Iran’s energy exports proceeds had agreed to pay $125 million to a Swiss bank to process Iran’s order for 16 million doses of vaccines under COVAX.

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