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Putin calls for end to sanctions against countries most afflicted by pandemic

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin called for a moratorium on sanctions and other restrictions against countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic during the G20 meeting of world leaders which ended on Thursday.

He said that the world’s most economically powerful countries should work together in solidarity and remove financial and trade barriers which are now a matter of life and death.

“Much was said now about the need to ensure supply chains are not interrupted, it is undeniably crucial. However, it is equally vital to create the so-called ‘green corridors’ free of trade wars and sanctions to exchange medicine, food, equipment and technology during the crisis,” he said.

In what was seen as a message directed at the US, the Russian leader said restrictions of essential goods, as well as the financial transactions to purchase them, should “ideally” be lifted for the duration of the crisis.

Washington has increased sanctions on Iran to “maximise pressure” while the country suffers thousands of deaths as it struggles to contain the coronavirus.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was branded “bloodthirsty” after new sanctions were imposed on 20 companies, officials and individuals in Iran and Iraq on Thursday.

They were accused of supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Quds Force.

Mr Putin said: “It is a question of whether people will live or die, a purely humanitarian issue. We need to rid these issues of any political husks.”

He was supported by Chinese President Xi Jinping who called for a “resolute all-out global war” against Covid-19.

“It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response,” he said.

The global death toll has shot to more than 21,000 with nearly half a million cases worldwide. The US is the new epicentre of the global pandemic with more than 86,000 confirmed cases.

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