S.Korean, Iranian officials discuss frozen assets


On the sidelines of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, senior diplomats of South Korea and Tehran discussed frozen assets of the Islamic Republic in Seoul, the Foreign Ministry here said on Friday.

Seoul’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Bagheri Kani, in the Austrian capital on Thursday, reports Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea is not directly involved in the nuclear negotiations, but it has been closely watching relevant developments amid prolonged standoffs with Iran over the frozen assets.

During the meeting, Choi expressed hope for an early agreement on the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ditched by the former US President Donald Trump’s administration in 2018, and the two sides shared the understanding that Tehran’s frozen assets should be released soon, according to the Ministry.

The two sides also agreed to push for working-level consultations on details related to a money transferring process, the Ministry said.

Iran has around $7 billion in funds frozen at two South Korean banks – the Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank; and Tehran has demanded the release of the funds.

The fate of the frozen assets apparently depends on the negotiations between Iran and the world powers because it needs the approval of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to be released, according to Seoul officials.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the sanctions relief issue was at the heart of the ongoing talks and that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.



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