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Parliament speaker urges Japan to take serious steps to unfreeze Iran assets in country's banks

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)
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (R) and the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (L) meet in Tehran on August 22, 2021. (Photo by ICANA)

Iran’s parliament speaker says Japan should take serious steps to unfreeze Iran’s assets blocked in its banks, especially under the present circumstances that Iran is grappling with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf made the remarks in a Sunday meeting with the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Tehran, during which the two sides discussed areas of mutual interest as well as regional and global developments.

Iran’s top parliamentarian thanked the Japanese side for donating coronavirus vaccines to Tehran, saying that humanitarian cooperation between Tehran and Tokyo has been a hallmark of the 90-year-old relations between the two sides.

Qalibaf, however, criticized Japan’s measure to freeze Iranian assets in the country under US pressure, saying, “We expect the government of Japan to act seriously to unfreeze Iran’s assets, especially in order to ease the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

In a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister earlier in the day, President Ebrahim Raeisi sharply criticized Japan for refusing to release the frozen assets.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Qalibaf pointed to Washington’s unilateral move to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying, “By leaving the JCPOA, this country stepped on all forms of multilateral and international interactions and caused illegal sanctions to be imposed on our nation and government.”

As a party to the JCPOA, Iran has complied with all its commitments, he said, adding, “Americans must live up to their commitments. The US acts of obstruction have made it impossible [for Iran] to even purchase medicine during the coronavirus pandemic, and we expect Japan, as a peace-loving country, to show serious reaction to this issue.”

Iran has been fighting back against one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, with the harsh US sanctions significantly hampering efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The sanctions were imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump under a “maximum pressure” campaign and have been maintained by the current administration of Joe Biden, which has refused to soften the bans.

Iranian officials have occasionally described the sanctions as “economic terrorism” and “medical terrorism” over their deadly impact on ordinary people.

As early as March 2020, when Iran was fighting its first COVID-19 wave, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the international community to play its real role to stop the United States’ medical terrorism against Iran.

“The global community must come to its senses and help Iran in order to stop the economic, medical and drug terrorism [by the US],” Zarif wrote in an op-ed published by Russian business newspaper Kommersant on March 30, 2020.

So far, 102,038 people have lost their lives in Iran due to the coronavirus, with 684 deaths registered in the last 24 hours.

The Japanese foreign minister, for his part, said his country precisely monitors regional developments and the Vienna talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA, adding that that resolution of very complicated issues require more negotiations.

Tokyo emphasizes all the JCPOA signatories’ commitment to the deal, Motegi said.

He also stressed the importance of improving trade and economic cooperation between Tehran and Tokyo.


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