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Rouhani urges South Korea to settle banking problems, release Iran's frozen assets

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and South Korea’s new Ambassador to Tehran, Yun Kanghyeon (L), meet on July 20, 2021. (Photo by

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the US sanctions have caused problems in ties with South Korea in financial and banking sectors, urging Seoul to make efforts to solve the issue at the earliest and allow Tehran access to its frozen assets there.

“Iran’s use of its financial reserves [frozen] in South Korean banks is a clear and obvious right,” Rouhani said in a meeting with South Korea’s new Ambassador to Tehran Yun Kanghyeon on Tuesday.

He added that Tehran and Seoul have had very good trade and banking relations and South Korea was involved in many important projects in Iran.

However, he added, mutual ties have deteriorated due to the “illegal” and “oppressive” sanctions, emphasizing that such issues should be resolved as soon as possible.

Despite promises made by South Korea, the banking and financial problems between the two countries still remain unsolved, Rouhani said.

“We still have problems in purchases of medical and pharmaceutical equipment and facilities and even the COVID-19 vaccine with our own financial reserves in Seoul banks,” the Iranian president added.

He said financial problems between Iran and South Korea have also negatively affected the Iranian people’s trust in Seoul.

Iranian authorities have said on several occasions that they expect South Korea to do more on the release of nearly $8.5 billion blocked illegally in two South Korean banks under the pretext of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in January that the measure taken by South Korean banks to freeze the Islamic Republic’s assets for fear of US sanctions constitute the main factor that prevents further expansion of relations between the two countries, calling on Seoul to take swift and necessary actions to settle the issue.

In turn, the South Korean ambassador, who submitted his credentials to President Rouhani, said Seoul was well aware of Iran’s frustration, adding that bilateral ties have been affected by conditions that are out of the Seoul government’s control.

He, however, pledged utmost efforts toward improving bilateral relations.

Although South Korea is waiting for good results at the end of the Vienna talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it will not waste time and is preparing the ground for further development of the Tehran-Seoul ties, Yun said.

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