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South Korea To Ship $500,000 Worth Of Medicine To Iran As Humanitarian Export

Iranians wait to get prescription drugs at the state-run "13 Aban" pharmacy in Tehran, February 19, 2020

The South Korean Foreign Ministry on Thursday said its first shipment of medicine worth $500,000 will be sent to Iran on Friday.

The shipment of medicine to treat Gaucher's disease will be sent by air, the Ministry said and added that another shipment of medicine and medical supplies worth $2 million is to be delivered to Iran next month.

The shipments of medicine from South Korea come after the United States in April gave the green light for humanitarian exports to Iran without being caught up in complications arising from U.S. sanctions.

In its press release on Thursday, the Korean Foreign Ministry has said that Seoul will continue consultations with Washington and Tehran to find ways to expand trade to medicine, good and agricultural products to Iran.

Last month, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Korea had rejected a SWIFT payment for coronavirus test kits due to U.S. sanctions.

"Apart from the license program, South Korea is also pushing for the Korean Humanitarian Trade Arrangement, which uses an Iranian bank free from U.S. sanctions ― such as the Middle East Bank ― to facilitate humanitarian transactions with the Islamic republic," Korea Times said on Friday.

In recent days the Iranian media have criticized Korea for refusing to free the money owed to Iran for oil exports that has been frozen in Korean banks for nearly two years.

There are no official figures on the amount of money frozen by Korean banks but according to Etemad daily it may be as high as $7 billion.

In December Iran summoned the Korean ambassador to protest to the delay in payment of the money owed to Iran for oil and condensates exported to the country, presumably for fear of breaching the U.S. sanctions.