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Pakistan PM Imran Khan calls for lifting of Iran sanctions

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Islamabad (AFP)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan called Friday for the lifting of "unjust" US-led sanctions on neighbouring Iran, so Tehran can better deal with the novel coronavirus crisis.

Khan's comments came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote to him asking for help in dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak that has now killed at least 1,433 people in Iran.

"I would stress and insist to the international community to lift the sanctions on Iran," Khan said at a press conference.

"It is very unjust they are dealing with such a large outbreak on one side, and on the other they are facing international sanctions."

Pakistan's foreign office did not provide any additional details on Rouhani's letter to Khan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that US sanctions were "impairing" Iran's ability to fight the COVID-19 disease.

Pakistan shares a 960-kilometre (600-mile) border with Iran, with the main crossing point located at Taftan in Balochistan province.

Pakistan sealed its border with Iran last week, but not before hundreds of pilgrims returned home from the Islamic Republic, which has been one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The US withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal and began reimposing punishing sanctions on Iran in 2018, blocking banking transactions and oil sales, among other sectors.

Tensions have soured further since the US assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in January.

Pakistan offered to mediate between the US and Iran in a bid to defuse tensions following the killing.

As of Friday, Pakistan had tested 3,410 suspected coronavirus cases with 461 positive cases and at least two deaths.

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