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Iraq partially reopens Iran trade crossing, border officials say (uk.reuters.com)

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on Tuesday after more than three months of closure to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, border officials said.

The crossing was being opened only for the trade of foodstuffs, allowing in some 500 trucks from Iran per week and would open every Wednesday and Sunday from now on, one of the officials said.

Iraq closed its international borders and provincial boundaries in March except for the delivery of essential goods such as food as it sought to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Iran, which shares a long border with Iraq, has been the epicentre of the virus in the Middle East but the spread has also accelerated in Iraq which is registering nearly 2,000 new cases every day. More than 2,500 people have died from COVID-19 in Iraq according to its health ministry.

Iran is one of Iraq’s biggest trading partners. Both countries’ economies are in crisis. Iran continues to suffer from U.S. sanctions and Iraq is reeling from low prices of oil, which accounts for almost all its state revenue.

Reporting by Aref Mohammed, writing by John Davison; editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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