Baghdad Agrees to Release Tehran Frozen Funds
IRAN NEWS ECONOMIC DESK
TEHRAN – Iraq has agreed to release Iranian funds blocked in the Arab country because of American sanctions for Iran’s purchase of staples and basic goods, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor Abdolnasser Hemmati said after meetings with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Monday.
Hemmati said in a post on his Instagram page that some “good agreements” had been reached on the issue in a trilateral meeting involving him and his Iraqi counterpart as well as the CEO of Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) where the Iranian funds are blocked.
Iran has billions of dollars in a TBI account which processes Iraq’s payments for imports of natural gas and electricity from Iran.
However, the funds have been blocked because of U.S. sanctions on Iran which restricts the use of dollar for transactions involving Tehran.
The assets held in Iraq belong to the Central Bank of Iran, which is the main supplier of the basic demands in various sectors such as industry, agriculture and healthcare, he explained, saying Tehran would begin to withdraw money from those funds according to its needs.
The commodities that are categorized as basic needs are exempted from the cruel and unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S., the Iranian official noted.
Hemmati said Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi had welcomed the agreement to use the funds to reimburse Iran’s basic goods imports.
“In the meeting with the Iraqi premier … he issued the required orders to the Iraqi central bank and the TBI to speed up the implementation of the agreement,” said Hemmati, adding that Kadhimi had vowed to personally follow up the case on a weekly basis.
Hemmati made a first visit to Baghdad in June to pursue the case of blocked funds in Iraq. The CBI governor had expressed optimistic remarks about the release of funds in Iraq on that occasion but a final decision on the issue has been waiting reportedly because of growing American pressure on Baghdad.
A high-ranking trade and banking delegation accompanied Hemmati in his Monday trip to Iraq. The top banker said the visit would bolster the already growing trade relations between the two countries.
Iraq is only second to China in purchase of goods and services from Iran with recent figures showing Iranian exports to the Arab country reached $565 million in value terms in the Persian calendar month to September 21.