SEOUL (Reuters) – The South Korean Foreign Ministry is currently considering whether a senior diplomat would visit Tehran as planned on Sunday, an official said after Iranian forces seized a South Korean flag chemical tanker in Gulf waters and arrested its crew had.
The incident comes amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to U.. S.. . Sanctions. Iranian state television quoted a government official from Tehran as saying that Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun had discussed Iran’s request to release $ 7 billion in frozen funds.
In Seoul, a State Department official told Reuters that « the plan is currently unclear » regarding Choi’s visit.
The Iranian media said Monday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had seized the tanker Hankuk Chemi for pollution violations. The ship carried 7. 200 tons of ethanol.
South Korea’s foreign minister said Tuesday she was making diplomatic efforts to secure the tanker’s release, Yonhap news agency reported.
Kang Kyung-wha told reporters that she first replied to her counterparts in Iran on Monday and that the ministry is currently holding talks with diplomats in Tehran and Seoul to resolve the issue.
Iranian state television quoted Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, as saying that the ship had been confiscated for « polluting the sea ». .
Last Sunday, the Tehran Times newspaper reported that Iran was hoping to negotiate an agreement to use the frozen funds to « barter » coronavirus vaccine doses and other goods.
When asked about Iran’s intentions for the frozen assets, Kang said the safety of the ship’s crew was more important, Yonhap said.
All offers were delayed by at least 15 minutes. A full list of exchanges and delays can be found here.
Iran, South Korea, oil tankers, Persian Gulf, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
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