A South Korean government team met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday to discuss the release of a South Korean tanker seized by Iran, which only led to the reconfirmation of Iran’s previous stance without any result. As Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnaser Hemmati even demanded South Korea to pay interests on Iranian assets frozen by South Korean banks, the South Korean team is likely to return to its home country without any outcome.
According to Iran’s state-run media, South Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong-gun had a series of meetings with Iranian high-ranking officials, including Foreign Minister Zarif and Kamal Kharrazi, the head of the foreign policy strategy committee and a close aid to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and discussed the release of the seized vessel, Hankuk Chemi, and, five South Koreans on board. “The vessel was seized for pollution, which requires Iranian judicial proceedings,” said Iranian figures, maintaining the existing stance.
Foreign Minister Zarif also repeated that the South Korean government should release seven billion dollars in payments for Iranian crude oil, currently frozen in South Korean banks. “The issue of frozen assets is the biggest hurdle in the bilateral relations between South Korea and Iran,” Zarif said, adding that South Korea’s illegal activities are creating a bad image for the country in Iran. Kharrazi also shared a similar opinion.
“South Korean banks, which have frozen Iranian assets, are not even paying interests,” CBI Governor Hemmati said during an interview with a state-run media on Monday, adding that he called on the payment of interests during a Sunday meeting with Vice Minister Choi.
Choi will stay in Iran until Tuesday and visit Qatar before returning to South Korea on Thursday. Some in the foreign affairs sector are calling for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to take action to resolve the issue as negotiations between the two countries are at a stalemate.
Hyun-Seok Lim email@example.com · Ji-Sun Choi firstname.lastname@example.org