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FM Amir-Abdollahian pursuing case of blocked funds in Japan: Spokesman

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani speaks to reporters during his weekly press conference on August 7, 2023. (Photo by Fars News Agency)

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says the Islamic Republic is pursuing the release of Iranian funds frozen in Japan due to US sanctions, adding that Tokyo has repeatedly announced its readiness to repatriate them.

Nasser Kan’ani made the remarks in his weekly press conference on Monday, hours after Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

“We will continue to follow up on the issue of unfreezing Iranian funds held in various countries, as we did before,” Kan’ani said.

With regard to Japan, he added, the issue has been raised at different levels, and last year, during a meeting on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed the matter.

The Iranian diplomat went on to say that the Japanese government has repeatedly announced its readiness to repatriate the frozen assets and is making efforts to make this happen.

Iran has tens of billions of dollar worth of funds in foreign banks that it cannot access because of US sanctions.

The funds are mostly kept in banks in South Korea, Iraq, China, Japan and India where Iran is owed for shipments of crude and other energy products that took place before the United States imposed its sanctions on Tehran in 2018.

Kan’ani also said that forging ties with Japan, among other countries, is on the Iranian government’s agenda, adding that both sides seek to enhance cooperation.

According to Kan’ani, Amir-Abdollahian has held a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi as well as Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato to talk on major regional and international issues.

'Political solution only way to end Ukraine crisis'

Regarding Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said that since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022, Iran has emphasized the need for reaching a political solution as the most effective way to end the ongoing crisis.

Kan’ani added Tehran believes that only a political solution can safely end this crisis and has made efforts to help the two sides return to the negotiation table to end the war.

“What is important for Iran is that the Ukraine crisis must not threaten and challenge international peace and security,” he said. 

‘We will not wait for JCPOA’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kan’ani said Iran will not wait for the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and keeps on adopting measures to neutralize the sanctions.

“Iran has a strategic policy for lifting the sanctions, … we will not wait for the JCPOA, and at the same time, we have not left the negotiation table and will continue the path of neutralizing the sanctions,” he said.

The spokesman further said that it is not true that the negotiations have come to a standstill, adding that the path of diplomacy is always promising and Iran will follow JCPOA-related issues in this direction.

Iran proved the peaceful nature of its nuclear program to the world by signing the JCPOA with six world powers in 2015. However, Washington’s exit in May 2018 and its subsequent re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran left the future of the deal in limbo.

Multilateral diplomatic efforts to revive the JCPOA have been stalled since last August, with Iran blaming the United States for failing to guarantee that it will not leave the deal again.

Iran has repeatedly announced that the JCPOA revival is possible if the US and the European signatories to the agreement have the will to reach that aim, warning that the opportunity will not last forever.

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