DUBAI, May 29 (Reuters) – Iraq has agreed to transfer $125 million of frozen Iranian funds to a European bank for the purchase of 16 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian was quoted as saying by state media on Saturday.
Iran, the hardest hit Middle Eastern country by COVID-19, has complained that U.S. sanctions were preventing it from making payments to buy vaccines.
Ardakanian said the payments would go towards the purchase of vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO) – sponsored global COVAX vaccine-sharing plan, state news agency IRNA reported.
There was no immediate confirmation by Iraqi officials of the reported release of Iran’s funds for the purchase of vaccines.
While holding talks with world powers in Vienna to revive its 2015 nuclear accord, Tehran has demanded the release of $20 billion of its oil revenue it says has been frozen in countries such as Iraq, South Korea and China due to U.S. sanctions since 2018.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom Editing by David Holmes)