Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on South Korea to redouble efforts to secure Iran’s access to its assets frozen in the East Asian country’s banks due to US sanctions.
In a phone conversation with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, on Wednesday, Zarif said that over the past two and a half years, Tehran-Seoul ties have been adversely affected by the “illegal” move of South Korean banks to freeze Iran’s assets, urging swift action to reverse the measure.
“South Korea should provide [Iran with] access to Central Bank funds [blocked] in its banks as soon as possible,” Zarif said.
He added that Iran’s assets were frozen especially amid the coronavirus outbreak and as the Iranian people are in need of those resources to help them in the battle against the pandemic.
For his part, the South Korean official told his Iranian counterpart that Seoul is making sincere efforts to release Iran’s assets frozen in the country.
“With regard to Minister Zarif’s request for an early resolution in relation to the issue of the frozen … funds, Minister Chung explained that the government has been sincerely making utmost efforts,” the ministry said in a release, according to the Korean Herald newspaper.
This came a day after Iranian Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati had reached a preliminary agreement with the South Korean ambassador that $1 billion of the blocked resources should be released.
But in Seoul, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told reporters, “The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the United States.”