NATIONAL

UN chief champions sanctions relief for anti-virus efforts

By Choi Si-young
  • Published : Mar 27, 2020 - 14:23
  • Updated : Mar 27, 2020 - 18:40

At a teleconference with G-20 countries Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres advises loosening sanctions on countries such as North Korea to aid in their anti-virus measures. US Secretary State Mike Pompeo says Washington is willing to reach out to sanctioned countries facing the pandemic. (AFP-Yonhap)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres advised loosening sanctions on some countries so that they can better counter the coronavirus pandemic, during a teleconference with G-20 countries Thursday.

“I also appeal for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic,” he said.

The UN chief reiterated advice he earlier gave to those countries that countries under sanctions should be guaranteed the imports of vital medical equipment and supplies along with relief goods in their anti-virus efforts.

A day earlier on Wednesday, eight countries including North Korea, Venezuela and Iran delivered the UN chief a joint letter, saying what they called “measures of economic pressure” undermine their ongoing efforts to curb COVID-19.

Under sanctions, mainly from the United States and European Union, the eight countries demanded the secretary-general lift sanctions to provide for effective and timely procurement of medical equipment and supplies, including test kits.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was willing to lend a helping hand to North Korea and Venezuela to assist in their countermeasures against the pandemic.

“In countries like Venezuela – North Korea would be in a similar situation – we’re doing our best to ensure that humanitarian assistance can make its way in,” he said in a local radio interview Thursday.

But, he noted those countries often reject the humanitarian assistance offered, and that was “indicative of these leaders who care so little about their people.”

“I hope that we can do better in to help those people make their way through this challenges as well,” Pompeo added, referring to Iran as well.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed the top US diplomat, saying it was ready to partner with the World Health Organization and other international partners to help countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If countries request assistance, we will consider their requests,” it said.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)