(LEAD) Iran calls for international medical aid amid rising coronavirus death toll
(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS more info in 7th para)
SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- The Iranian Embassy in Seoul said Monday that Tehran "welcomes" international medical assistance to help fight the new coronavirus, amid shortages of medicine and other supplies stemming from crippling U.S. sanctions.
The embassy made the appeal, stressing the need for a "globally coordinated" response to containing the COVID-19 pandemic and accusing the United States of hampering Iran's virus containment efforts.
On Sunday, Iran announced the total number of its confirmed cases had reached 13,938 with 724 deaths.
"The government of I.R. (Islamic Republic) Iran welcomes international assistance, through providing necessary medical needs and necessities by the U.N. system, in particular WHO and UNICEF and also by international communities," the embassy said in a press release.
"Iranian embassies and consulates across the world have scaled up their interactions with host countries and the volunteer communities in facilitating the shipments of required medical equipment," it added.
In an apparent allusion to U.S. sanctions against Iran that have limited the flow of medical necessities into the Middle East country, the embassy also took a swipe at Washington for hindering "Iran's national efforts and capacities to contain the disease."
To help ease humanitarian concerns in Iran and maintain economic ties with it, Seoul has been exploring ways to export humanitarian products to Iran.
Amid growing concerns about the safety of 220 South Korean nationals in Iran, Seoul has been considering using a chartered flight to bring some of them back home.
South Korea has so far reported 8,236 COVID-19 cases with 75 deaths.
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