(News 24h) – Korean officials come to Tehran to negotiate the release of MT Hankuk Chemi with 20 sailors, Iran discusses claiming $ 7 billion.
On January 10, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi received his Korean counterpart Choi Jong-kun to visit and work in the country.
One of the main contents of the meeting was aimed at persuading Iran to release the South Korean tanker MT Hankuk Chemi and 20 crew members captured by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week.
|Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (right) and his South Korean counterpart Choi Jong-kun in the capital, Tehran on January 10. Photo: IRNA|
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young Sam said: “We are working to assess the situation, ensure the ship’s release is quick, ensure the safety of the crew and bring them home. home with a diplomatic solution. Deputy Minister will discuss the case with Iran as well as other issues awaiting the two sides to resolve “.
However, during the meeting, the Iranian side mentioned the country’s foreign exchange amount was blocked by the Korean bank, on the grounds of fear of US sanctions against Iran in 2018.
Iran’s Deputy Minister Araghchi affirmed that the Korean blockade of Iranian assets was illegal, stemming from the fact that Korea gave in to the excessive demands of the US, and that Korea had “lacked will politics ”in solving this problem.
“Over the past 2 years and 6 months, Korean banks have frozen Iranian funds … that is unacceptable … In our opinion, this is due to Seoul’s lack of intention. It is more of a political will to solve the problem than US sanctions, “the Fars news agency quoted Mr Araghchi as saying.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that there should be a mechanism for the two sides to immediately solve the problem of freezing assets and this is a “priority” issue in the Korea-Iran relationship.
According to Reuters, the amount that the Korean bank froze in Iran was about 7 billion USD; But according to Iranian news agencies, this amount is even more, about 8.5 billion USD.
There are many concerns, Iran arrested the Korean oil tanker to force this country to release the frozen money in Iran’s Korean bank, saying that this is Iran’s “hostage action”. However, the Iranian side has denied these allegations.
Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei said: “If there are any hostages, then the Korean government is holding more than $ 7 billion that belongs to us – unfounded hostage.”
Iranian officials said that the country’s arrest of the tanker was just a technical problem, because the ship caused environmental damage by chemicals and Korea should not politicize this issue.
Ahead of South Korea’s deputy foreign minister’s visit to Iran, a delegation from Korea also went to Iran to resolve the issue of the tanker arrest. However, the case does not appear to be resolved.
|Shipowner Hankuk Chemi denies the allegations of causing pollution in the Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Reuters|
According to sources, all 20 sailors aboard the Korean ship is still guaranteed safety. On board there were sailors from Korea and other countries including 2 Vietnamese.
Reuters quoted an Iranian government spokesperson as saying Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces detained the MT Hankuk Chemi ship under the order of an Iranian court because the ship “pollutes the environment”.
However, Taikun Shipping – the company that operates the ship (based in Busan, South Korea) – confirmed there is no indication that Iranian authorities are investigating the violation of environmental protection regulations. school before arresting the MT Hankuk Chemi.