The US Treasury announced Tuesday that it would permit private organizations to support humanitarian program in Iran, and sports groups to hold exchanges with the country.
Opening up a window of cooperation in its tight sanctions crackdown on Iran, the Treasury issued "general licenses", or permits, for the two areas of activity. It said this would "encourage humanitarian and goodwill services between the Iranian and American people."
The first license allows non-governmental organizations to provide support and funds for humanitarian-related activities, including those dealing with health services, disaster relief, wildlife conservation, and human rights and promotion of democracy.
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The permission will allow any organization pursuing such activities to transfer up to $500,000 a year in funds for them to Iran. But they must report all the details of their activities and the transfers to the Treasury.
The second license permits exchanges involving both professional and amateur sports, including exhibition matches and events, the sponsorship of players, coaching, refereeing and training.
"This action further demonstrates this administration's commitment to reinforcing ties between the Iranian and American people," the Treasury said.
Both licenses stress that the activities cannot involve any Iranian companies or organizations blacklisted by the United States under its tight sanctions regime, which seeks to pressure Tehran into giving up what the West says is a program to develop nuclear weapons.
Under those sanctions, the Treasury has placed very tight controls on the ability of any group or business to transfer funds into Iran.