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S. Korea to offer US$2 million in humanitarian aid to Iran to help fight coronavirus

All News 15:47 April 01, 2020

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to offer US$2 million in humanitarian aid to Iran to help fight the new coronavirus in the Middle East country, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday, amid Tehran's appeals for international support to stem the pandemic.

The government has decided to set aside a combined $6 million in humanitarian assistance to 14 countries, including Iran, following their requests to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the official said.

Seoul plans to ship to the Islamic republic two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines for coronavirus tests and 500 disinfectors this week, while it is looking into the possibility of providing COVID-19 test kits.

Amid the rise in infections and deaths, Iran has called for outside assistance, particularly through the World Health Organization and the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund, while criticizing U.S. sanctions for hampering its anti-virus efforts.

Earlier this week, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly signaled the possibility that Washington may consider easing sanctions on Iran and other nations to help fight the virus amid growing calls for sanctions relief from a humanitarian standpoint.

As of noon Tuesday, Iran's total COVID-19 caseload stood at 44,606 with 2,898 deaths, according to the country's health authorities.

Of the 14 recipients of South Korean aid, five are from Asia, three from Central and South America, and six from Africa and the Middle East. The official did not identify each country.

The foreign ministry is also considering enabling an additional four countries to use South Korea's overseas development assistance funds earmarked for them -- worth $1 million in total -- to help procure quarantine items, the official said.

A total of 55 countries have so far requested South Korea's humanitarian aid to combat the pandemic.

The official also said that three South Korean coronavirus diagnostic kit makers that have won interim approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are in talks with the U.S. over export contracts.

"The government has been cooperating to ensure that their shipment can materialize as quickly as possible," the official said.


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