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Covid-19: Iran says Iraq to release $125m frozen funds for vaccines

Iraq has not confirmed the move, while Tehran says money will be transferred to a European bank
An Iranian health worker prepares an injection of the locally made Covid-19 vaccine during the start of the second phase of trials in Tehran on 15 March 2021 (AFP)

Iraq has agreed to transfer $125m of frozen Iranian funds to a European bank for the purchase of 16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said on Saturday.

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Iran has the highest toll of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East, with 2,893,218 cases and 79,741 deaths as of 29 May. Tehran has repeatedly complained that US sanctions were preventing it from making payments to buy vaccines.

Ardakanian was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying that Iraq's payments would go towards the purchase of vaccines from the World Health Organization-sponsored global COVAX vaccine-sharing plan.

There was no immediate confirmation by Iraqi officials of the reported release of funds.

While holding talks with world powers in Vienna to revive its 2015 nuclear accord, Tehran has demanded the release of $20bn of its oil revenue it says has been frozen in countries such as Iraq, South Korea and China due to US sanctions since 2018.