Iran will use money from natural gas exports to Iraq to buy coronavirus vaccines from Europe, the energy minister announced yesterday.
Reza Ardakanian told IRNA news agency that Tehran had reached an agreement with Iraqi officials on the "withdrawal of Iranian funds held in Iraq due to years-long imposed US sanctions."
Ardakanian's remarks came after his visit on Tuesday to the Iraqi capital Baghdad, during which he met with the Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and his central bank Governor Mustafa Ghaleb.
"We agreed with Iraqi officials to use gas sale funds to buy coronavirus vaccines from a European medical company," the Iranian official said.
According to the state-owned National Iranian Gas Company, Baghdad currently owes Iran $5 billion for gas supplies and an additional $1 billion in penalties. Iraq was recently reported to have repaid a total of $700 million of its debt to Tehran.
Last week, Iran's central bank chief, Abdolnaser Hemmati, said that Washongton had approved the transfer of Iraninan funds to a Swiss bank to pay for the coronavirus vaccines. "They [Americans] have put sanctions on all our banks. They accepted this one case under the pressure of world public opinion," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.