Senior MP: Seoul must immediately release Iran’s funds

TEHRAN — Chairman of the Iranian Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Mojtaba Zonnouri urged the Seoul government on Tuesday to swiftly unblock Iranian funds in South Korean banks.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran expects South Korea’s senior officials not to allow any damage to the amicable and friendly relations between the two countries,” Zonnouri said in his meeting with the visiting South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-Kun, urging Seoul to take immediate action to release Iranian assets frozen in the country.

Pointing to the U.S. efforts to undermine Iran’s friendly ties with other countries, the top MP said, “Leaders of the two countries should not allow the development of friendly relations to come to a halt under the influence of White House’s biased efforts.”

Choi, for his part, said that South Korean officials are determined to return Iran’s frozen assets. The vice foreign minister stressed that he had constructive and useful talks with Iranian officials in order to promote cooperation between the two countries and to remove obstacles on the way.

Regarding the issue, Iran’s central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati called on South Korea on Monday to make a serious move and opt for independent decision-making on Iran’s frozen assets, warning that if the country does not release Iran’s crude revenues, it should expect consequences.

“Seoul must immediately release some $7 billion worth of funds it owes to Iran over crude imports in the past,” Hemmati said after his meeting with Choi.

“I reminded the Koreans and emphasized that Iran’s blocked funds belong to the Iranian nation and no one is allowed to play tricks on them,” the central banker insisted.
He said Seoul has been acting reluctantly by repeatedly promising that the money would be released.

“For almost one and a half year, the Koreans have sent numerous correspondences and announced that they would solve the problem today, tomorrow, or a month later”, the CBI governor said.

The chief banker added that Choi had shown serious determination to tackle the case for good.

In a separate meeting on Sunday evening, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister For Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi told Choi that the blocking of the Iranian asset by South Korea “is only surrendered to ransom demand from the U.S.” and this “is not acceptable”.

Araghchi said, “Naturally the expansion of relations (between Tehran and Seoul) would be meaningful only when this problem is solved.” 

South Korea, which was one of Iran’s main trading partners, left Iran as Donald Trump administration introduced illegal sanctions against Iran.

AJ/PA

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