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South Korea could pay Iran’s debt in won: Businessman

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)
An Iranian businessman says South Korea could pay Iran’s multi-billion dollar debt in its won currency.

An Iranian businessman says South Korea could pay part of its multi-billion dollar debt to Iran in its won currency after reports suggested that the East Asian country may soon start repatriating the funds to Iran under an understanding with the United States.

Hossein Tanhayi, who chairs Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that based on recent negotiations between the two countries, Iran could use part of its frozen funds in South Korea to buy essential goods, especially medical products, in won from suppliers in the same country.

Iran has more than $7 billion worth of funds in South Korea that it is unable to access mainly because of US sanctions.

A recent report by the Korea Economic Daily quoted sources as saying that South Korea and the United States are discussing ways to release the Iranian funds as Seoul and Washington seek to improve economic and diplomatic relations with Tehran.

The report said that under a new mechanism, the funds could be transferred from two South Korean banks, where they have remained blocked for more than five years, to bank branches in Iran’s neighboring Middle Eastern countries.

Tanhayi said that he had received no information on the reports, calling them mere speculations.

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