BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 18
The head of the Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce announced the possibility of releasing the seized South Korean oil tanker in the near future.
"Several meetings between the Korean delegation and Iran`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are held but not all information about these meetings is available to the Chamber of Commerce," the Head of Iran, South Korea Chamber of Commerce, Hossein Tanhaie said, Trend reports citing ILNA.
"In the meeting with the presence of Vice President Ishaq Jahangiri, the measures to clear the Iranian blocked money in S. Korea by the private sector were discussed," he said.
He went on to mention the Chamber`s request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform the private sector about the bilateral economic issues.
Tanhaie said that before seizing the oil tanker, part of the blocked money was to be bartered with essential goods such as medicine, food, and vaccines,
"The Korean delegation was supposed to stay in Tehran for two days, but they extended their visit," he said. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not invite members of the chamber to attend the meetings, while before the ship was seized, all negotiations were attended by the private sector."
"Given the duration of the blockade of Iranian monies in Korea, the austerity measures to seize a Korean ship in Iran are reasonable," he added.
He noted that Iran-Korea relations are positive, but the Koreans were more cautious than other countries for fear of the United States sanctions.
Tanhaie announced the possibility of releasing the seized tanker in the next two weeks.
South Korea is mounting a diplomatic effort to free an oil tanker seized by Iran amid a dispute over frozen bank funds, the latest flare-up of tensions between Tehran and a U.S. ally. A South Korean delegation arrived in Tehran on Thursday, three days after the 9,797-ton oil tanker Hankuk Chemi and its 20 crew members were detained. The delegation is expected to lay the groundwork for a visit to Iran on Sunday by the country’s vice foreign minister, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
Tehran said the ship flouted environmental regulations, but Seoul disputes the claim.