Iran urges neighbours to avoid taking steps that harm trade

Updated February 29, 2020

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Statement comes after Pakistan shuts border, air travel in light of growing cases of coronavirus in Iran. — APP/File
Statement comes after Pakistan shuts border, air travel in light of growing cases of coronavirus in Iran. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Tehran on Friday urged neighbouring countries to avoid taking steps in response to coronavirus outbreak in Iran that would affect trade and travel.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has acted within the framework of its obligations under these Regulations, and therefore expects other countries, in particular neighbouring countries, to be committed to their responsibilities and the principle of proportionality and avoidance of undue effect of their actions on international business and traffic,” said a statement issued by Iran’s embassy in Islamabad on coronavirus outbreak in Iran.

The statement was issued a day after Pakistani authorities suspended flights to and from Iran following confirmation of the first two coronavirus cases in the country. Both Pakistani patients had travelled to Iran for pilgrimage.

Earlier, Pakistan had closed border crossings with Iran and suspended border trade shortly after first deaths from coronavirus were reported in Iran on Feb 19.

Iran’s other neighbours Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan too had closed their borders with it, with some of them also ending flights.

Thirty-four people in Iran have died from coronavirus, while 388 confirmed cases have been reported there. Iran has reported the highest death toll from the virus outside China.

Iran’s embassy said coronavirus caseload in Iran was low and limited as compared to the global statistics. It emphasised that WHO standards were fully implemented in Iran and claimed that the global health body had endorsed Iran’s “fundamental ability” to manage the problem.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran also invites the managers and experts of the Ministries of Health of all countries to visit the medical, health-care facilities and capabilities of Iran so that they can be assured of that,” the statement said, offering international cooperation on the disease outbreak.

“Iran’s efforts and actions are not only to protect the health of the Iranian people but to maintain health security for the entire region and we do not allow the health of the countries in the region to be endangered,” it maintained.

The embassy statement expressed the hope that unilateral steps by the US and political pressure would not hinder international assistance for Iran in dealing with the disease and provide an excuse to impede the continuation of friendly relations and regional cooperation.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2020