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China Wants Iran Sanctions Lifted to Avoid Damage to 'Economy and People's Lives' Amid Pandemic

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Coronavirus Outbreak Turns Into Pandemic

BEIJING (Sputnik) - Beijing calls for lifting Iran sanctions as the Islamic republic fiercely struggles to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"China urges countries involved to immediately lift the relevant sanctions against Iran to avoid further damage to the Iranian economy and people's lives," the ministry’s spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Keeping sanctions in force at a time when the fight against the virus in Iran "has entered a crucial stage" would be antihuman, he added.

The diplomat warned that the restrictions would get in the way of the United Nations and other organisations providing assistance to virus-hit Iran.

"Beijing will continue providing assistance to Tehran based on the needs of the Iranian side and its own capabilities, and we also call on the international community to cooperate with Iran to ensure public health security at a regional and global level," he stressed, noting that China had already sent humanitarian medical supplies and experts to help Iran.

According to the Iranian health ministry, 1,053 new cases of Covid-19 infection have been reported in the country in the past 24 hours. 

In a letter to world leaders on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that crippling US sanctions had cost the national economy some $200 billion in less than two years and curbed the effective fight against the pandemic. He urged the global community to show unity in the face of the deadly viral disease and abandon any policy that hinders global efforts to combat it.

Iran is suffering from the biggest coronavirus outbreak after China and Italy, with nearly 14,000 confirmed cases and over 720 deaths.