Iran has sent five cargo planes of vegetables to Qatar and is planning more deliveries, Iranian officials said amid concerns of shortages after Qatar’s biggest suppliers severed ties with the import-dependent country.
Qatar has been in talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut links, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar says the allegations are based on lies.
“So far five planes carrying … vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tonnes of cargo, while another plane will be sent today,” Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi told AFP on Sunday (Jun 11).
“We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand” from Qatar, Noushabadi added, without mentioning if these deliveries were exports or aid.
The head of the industries, business and trade organisation in the Fars province was also quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying on Sunday the first planes carrying food to Qatar had flown from the southern city of Shiraz.
“Every day we will export 100 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to Qatar,” Ali Hemmati said.
In addition, three ships loaded with 350 tonnes of fruit and vegetables were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, Tasnim quoted a local official as saying. The port of Dayyer is Iran’s closest port to Qatar.
Qatar, a small peninsular nation of 2.5 million people, was importing 80 per cent of its food requirements from bigger Gulf Arab neighbours before they cut ties with it.
Iran, long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-the-scenes target of the move, has called for the sides to overcome their differences.
The Islamic republic has also opened its airspace to about 100 more Qatari flights a day, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned Qatari planes from their airspace.
The new flights have increased Iranian air traffic by 17 per cent, the official state news agency has reported.