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Iran to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in coming weeks: President Rouhani

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President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst hit country, Trend reports citing Reuters.

“Foreign vaccines are a necessity until local vaccines are available,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, without giving details of what foreign vaccines would be used.

His remarks came as daily COVID-19 deaths fell to a low of more than seven months and officials announced that there were no more high-risk “red cities” in the country.

Earlier this month Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, banned the government from importing vaccines from the United States and Britain, which he said were possibly seeking to spread the infection to other countries.

Rouhani himself, in compliance with Khamenei’s ban, said at the time that his government would purchase “safe foreign vaccines.”

Iran launched human trials of its first domestic vaccine candidate late last month, saying this could help it defeat the pandemic despite U.S. sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.

“There have been good movements in the field of local and foreign vaccines,” Rouhani said, adding that three domestic vaccines – Barekat, Pasteur and Razi, some of which have been developed with foreign collaboration – could begin in the spring and summer.

Cuba said earlier this month that it had signed an accord with Tehran to transfer the technology for its most advanced coronavirus vaccine candidate and carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in Iran.

Tehran and Havana are under tough U.S. sanctions that while they exempt medicine often deter foreign pharmaceutical companies from trading with them.

Iran is also participating in the COVAX scheme that aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries.

The country has recorded nearly 1.37 million cases and about 57,300 deaths, according to government data, but there has been a decline in new infections in recent weeks. Deaths fell to 69 in the 24 hours to Saturday, the health ministry said, the lowest since June 5.

“We can fortunately announce today that we have no ‘red cities’ across the country,” Alireza Raisi, spokesman for the national coronavirus task force, told state TV. But officials warned people should still follow health precautions.

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Armenian Aggression

MasterCard working on developing QR payments in Azerbaijan

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MasterCard will be developing the QR payments in Azerbaijan during 2021, MasterCard Country Manager for Azerbaijan, Erdem Chakar said during an online conference, Trend reports.

According to the MasterCard representative, with the help of a mobile device and a corresponding application, customers in stores can pay for services and goods through POS terminals.

"At present, clients of the Kapital Bank OJSC can make payments via a mobile device using a MasterCard card. I'm sure that a number of Azerbaijani banks will join this project," Chakar said.

He further noted that MasterCard will soon implement a project related to payments for travel in Baku metro, using MasterCard cards.

“We’ve already launched a pilot project of this solution in Shamakhi,” Chakar added.

MasterCard will continue to implement its solutions and incentive campaigns in Azerbaijan's online payment systems in 2021.

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UN, Azerbaijan sign new Cooperation Framework for 2021-25

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By Ayya Lmahamad

Azerbaijani and the United Nations have signed a Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for 2021-2025, the Economy Ministry’s press service has reported.

The document was signed between Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov and UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan Ghulam Isaczai on March 1.

The report said that four framework documents have been implemented between the UN and Azerbaijan as a result of successful cooperation so far. “Framework Document on Cooperation between the UN and Azerbaijan on Sustainable Development in 2021-2025” has been prepared as a continuation of this cooperation.

The Cooperation Framework, fully compliant with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is based on the principles of human rights, gender equality, sustainable development, resilience and responsibility, including the priorities of socio-economic development, and will cover entire Azerbaijan’s territory.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Economy Minister noted that Azerbaijan effectively cooperates with carious specialized UN agencies. He added that as part of such cooperation a number of documents have been signed, and joint projects were implemented.

Moreover, the minister noted that the Cooperation Framework will contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, ongoing reforms and implementation of projects, the development of human capital within the “Azerbaijan 2030: national socio-economic development” program.

Jabbarov also stressed the importance of cooperation with specialized UN agencies in the framework in ensuring the great return to the liberated territories, stating that the relevant steps have been already taken in this direction.

In turn, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan underlined that the main goals of the Cooperation Framework are to transform the economy, meeting the needs of vulnerable groups of population, minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and eliminate the consequences of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, emphasizing the role of the document in accelerating the implementation of the SDGs.

The document signing was followed by a meeting between the minister and resident coordinator, at which the parties discussed the cooperation with specialized UN agencies.

The UNSDCF is the fifth UN-Azerbaijan cooperation framework and is based on an analysis of Azerbaijan’s progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The implementation of the Cooperation Framework puts the UN development system reform into practice, emphasizing transparency, accountability and joint action in the delivery of all development results.

Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad

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Azerbaijan to contribute to development of CE work on organizing AI security

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Azerbaijan took part in the fourth plenary meeting of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence, established by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Electronic Government Development Center of Azerbaijan told Trend.

According to the Center, the meeting was devoted to the main elements of the legal framework based on the CE standards in the field of human rights, rule of law, and democracy.

"With the participation of Azerbaijan and a number of other parties, the ongoing work with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the field of classification of artificial intelligence (AI), protection of human rights in the era of AI and a number of other issues was discussed," the Center added.

The Azerbaijani side was represented by Fariz Jafarov, Director of the Electronic Government Development Center of Azerbaijan.

Along with the Azerbaijani delegation, the plenary session was attended by the CE member states, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Rick Dams, as well as representatives of the bodies and structures of the CE, the European Court of Human Rights and other organizations.

In 2020, Fariz Jafarov, Director of the Center for the Development of Electronic Government of Azerbaijan, was elected as an observer member of the Bureau of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence from Azerbaijan by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

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