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Iran’s rial gains amid reports South Korea may return funds

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)
The greenback lost part of its value against the Iranian rial after South Koreans headed to Vienna.

The Iranian rial has regained part of its value against major international currencies after reports suggested that South Korea is accelerating efforts to release Iranian funds blocked in the country because of US sanctions.

The rial closed at 288,000 against the US dollar on Thursday, up nearly 4% from a day earlier and firmer against near record-low prices reported in early December.

The surge came after reports said that a high-ranking delegation from South Korea had travelled to Austria to hold talks with parties to negotiations meant to revive a 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The reports said the trip had relayed a signal to the forex market in Iran that Seoul is preparing to release around $7 billion owed to Tehran for oil imports in the past. The funds have remained frozen in two bank accounts in the country because of US sanctions.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani said on Thursday after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart in Vienna that Tehran expects Seoul to immediately release the funds regardless of what happens to efforts revive the nuclear deal.

South Korea’s official Yonhap news agency said vice foreign minister Choi Jong-kun had held intensive meetings with US and European officials on Thursday where he had called for efforts to achieve “positive progress” in Vienna talks on Iran nuclear deal.

Iranian economic news websites said the presence of South Korean delegation in Vienna and other reports suggesting that Iran and world powers could reach an agreement to revive the nuclear deal had positively impacted the currency trade in Tehran and led to a fall for US dollar. 

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