Tehran, Jan 11 : During a meeting between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and visiting South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun, Tehran demanded the release of its frozen foreign exchange assets in Seoul.
The First Vice Foreign Minister arrived in Tehran on Sunday in an effort to seek an early release of the South Korean oil tanker, Hankuk Chemi, which was seized by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Gulf on January 4 over what Tehran claimed to be “repeated violations” of environmental protocols.
“For about two and a half years, South Korean banks have illegally frozen Iran’s foreign exchange assets, citing fear of the US’ sanctions,” Araqchi said during the meeting on Sunday evening.
South Korea’s course of action has no other reason than “submission” to Washington’s “extortionist policies” and is “not acceptable”, Xinhua news agency quoted the Iranian diplomat as saying.
Pointing to several unfruitful rounds of negotiations recently held between the two countries, Araqchi said Iran believes its assets have been frozen “more due to lack of political will on the part of the South Korean government than Washington’s iniquitous sanctions”.
The Iranian diplomat urged South Korea to find a mechanism to solve the issue, noting it is the first priority in the relations between the two countries.
In response to a request for help from Choi regarding the seizure of the oil tanker, Araqchi said it is only a technical matter related to environmental pollution, and the judicial process has already begun.
For his part, Choi said his journey to Iran is a sign that South Korea attaches importance to the Iranian assets issue.
South Korea intends to restore trust in bilateral relations in 2021 by resolving the problems existing between the two countries, he added.
The tanker was en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when it was seized in the Gulf by the IRGC “for repeated violations of marine environmental laws”.
It was carrying 7,200 tonnes of chemicals derived from petroleum and 20 crewmembers — five South Koreans, 11 Myanmarese, two Indonesians and two Vietnamese.
The tanker is currently docked at a port in Bandar Abbas, a city on Iran’s southern coast.
Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.