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Swiss humanitarian channel to Iran starts up with trial run

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A humanitarian channel to bring food and medicine to Iran has started trial operations, the Swiss government said on Thursday, helping supply Swiss goods to the struggling population without tripping over US sanctions.

The project, in the works since late 2018, has begun as a trial run with an initial payment for a shipment of cancer drugs and drugs required for organ transplants to Iran worth 2.3 million euros ($2.55 million), the government said.

Swiss and US officials had told Reuters last month that the humanitarian channel could be up and running within months.

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

But the US 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 - just as Iran grappled with major protests.

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