Zarif calls on South Korea to secure Iran's access to blocked assets
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on South Korea to redouble efforts to secure Iran’s access to its assets blocked in the East Asian country’s banks due to illegal US sanctions.
According to Press TV, in a phone conversation with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, on Wednesday, Zarif said that over the past two and a half years, Tehran-Seoul ties have been adversely affected by the “illegal” move of South Korean banks to freeze Iran’s assets, urging swift action to reverse the measure.
“South Korea should provide [Iran with] access to Central Bank funds [blocked] in its banks as soon as possible,” Zarif said.
He added that Iran’s assets were frozen especially amid the coronavirus outbreak and as the Iranian people are in need of those resources to help them in the battle against the pandemic.
For his part, the South Korean official told his Iranian counterpart that Seoul is making sincere efforts to release Iran’s assets frozen in the country.
“With regard to Minister Zarif’s request for an early resolution in relation to the issue of the frozen ... funds, Minister Chung explained that the government has been sincerely making utmost efforts,” the ministry said in a release, according to the Korean Herald newspaper.
This came a day after Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati had reached a preliminary agreement with the South Korean ambassador that $1 billion of the blocked resources should be released.
Some seven billion dollars in Iranian assets have been illegally blocked in South Korean banks due to the illegal sanctions imposed by the US.
Meanwhile, Hemmati said Wednesday that South Korea would start settling the amount with an initial payment of at least one billion dollars.
During the Wednesday phone conversation, Chung also called on Iran to free the South Korean oil tanker detained by Tehran in its seas since early January.
Zarif said the detention of the ship was a "technical" issue that is being investigated by the Judiciary, noting that the government had spared no effort to provide consular access and all healthcare and welfare services to the ship's crew.