More companies interested in using humanitarian channel to Iran: U.S. envoy

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Washington (Reuters) – U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Thursday the United States was in talks with at least two more companies that would like to send food and medicine to Iran through the Swiss humanitarian channel.

Hook told reporters there was a lot of interest in the Swiss network, intended to supply goods to struggling sectors of Iran’s population without tripping over U.S. sanctions.

He offered few details, and did not identify firms either in talks with U.S. officials or those that may already have engaged in sending shipments to Iran through the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement.

The SHTA seeks to ensure that Swiss-based exporters and trading companies in the food, pharmaceutical and medical sectors have a secure payment channel with a Swiss bank, through which payments for their exports to Iran are guaranteed.

Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from the sanctions that Washington reimposed on Tehran after President Donald Trump walked away from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

But the U.S. measures targeting everything from oil sales to shipping and financial activities have deterred several foreign banks from doing business with the Islamic Republic – including humanitarian deals.

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