|A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine / Reuters-Yonhap|
South Korea will donate 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran, on humanitarian grounds, to help address its vaccine shortage, Seoul's foreign ministry said Monday.
The shipment of the vaccines will begin later in the day for arrival in Iran on Wednesday to support the Middle Eastern nation's COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a symbol of six decades of friendly ties between the two sides, according to the ministry.
Diplomatic relations between South Korea and Iran have frayed recently over Iranian assets frozen here under U.S. sanctions and ongoing multilateral efforts to restore the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement.
Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong had phone talks with his Iranian counterpart last month and vowed efforts to resolve the issue of Tehran's frozen funds and to cooperate with Iran to help the country overcome the humanitarian crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, South Korea donated 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 doses to Thailand, as it has enough vaccine to inoculate its own people and help other countries.
The country's vaccination rate had reached the milestone of 70 percent as of Saturday, marking a precondition set by the government to return to normalcy, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. (Yonhap)