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Iran secures release of $10bn of funds blocked in South Korea, Iraq: IRNA

Under US pressures, Iran's oil money has been held in a bank account in South Korea.

Iran has managed to secure the release of more than 10 billion worth of funds that have been illegally blocked in South Korea and Iraq for several years because oof US sanctions, a source has told official IRNA news agency.

The source made the statement on Thursday after media reports said Iran and the US had reached a prisoner swap deal that also included the release of Iranian funds held in South Korea.

The source said the release of the funds under the deal include $6 billion worth of assets blocked in South Korea as well as a “significant amount of Iranian funds held in the Trade Bank of Iraq”.

The statement said the funds in South Korea had already been changed into euro in a bank in Switzerland and were ready to be transferred to an account in the central bank of Qatar as agreed under the prisoner swap deal with the US.

The source confirmed reports that the prisoners had been transferred “to a place outside prison” for the purpose of exchange, adding, however, that they would not be freed until the funds were transferred to accounts designated by Iran.

It came after reports by US media outlets including the New York Times and the CNN quoted sources as saying that Washington will allow the transfer of nearly $6 billion of Iran’s assets in South Korea to an account in the central bank of Qatar where Iran can use them for purchases of food and medicine.

They said the US will also release several Iranian prisoners as part of the deal which will see Iran free five American prisoners.

They claimed that four of the prisoners had been already released from a prison in Tehran into house arrest. The report said the fifth American prisoner was already under house arrest in the country.

Despite having no diplomatic relations with the US, Iranian officials have said in the past that they will be open to prisoner exchange talks with the US out of respect for humanitarian issues.

However, Iran has denied reports that it will accept any restricted access to its blocked funds in other countries, including for humanitarian purchases.

The Iranian government started a procedure earlier this month to refer the dispute with South Korea over the blocked funds to international arbitration.

A lawmaker in the Iranian parliament said earlier this week that Iran will have many options to force South Korea pay back the debt it owes to Iran for purchases of energy products in the past.

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