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Iran says to get assets unfrozen in South Korea

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in Tehran, Iran on 5 October 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in Tehran, Iran on 5 October 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Iran confirmed, Monday, that it will receive part of its $7 billion assets unfrozen by South Korea by the end of this week, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, told a news briefing in Tehran that the necessary framework for unblocking the assets has already been identified and agreed upon.

He said a high-level delegation from a regional country will be visiting Tehran this week to finalise the mechanism for unblocking what he called "significant assets", without mentioning the country's name.

Tehran has accused Seoul of freezing more than $7 billion in foreign exchange reserves under US pressure.

The issue has led to frayed ties between the two countries, spilling into different areas.

In January, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, Ali Bagheri, told his South Korean counterpart, Choi Jong-kun, on the sidelines of the Vienna nuclear talks that Seoul was "obliged" to release Iran's frozen assets, and that US sanctions cannot justify its non-payment.

The official announcement on Monday followed days of intense media speculations that frozen assets would be released and transferred to Iranian bank accounts on the pattern of framework under which the UK released Iran's assets.

READ: Iran wants US to show goodwill by lifting some sanctions prior to nuclear deal

Reports are doing rounds that Iran's assets in South Korea would be unblocked in exchange for the release of three Iranian-Americans — Morad Tahbaz, Baqer Namazi and Siamak Namazi — who are jailed in Iran.

Last month, the UK released $530 million it owed Iran for a cancelled arms deal in the 1970s in exchange for the freedom of two British-Iranians jailed over espionage charges.

Iran has more than $100 billion assets frozen in foreign countries, including South Korea, Iraq, Japan, Canada, among others.

The funds were frozen soon after former US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran.

According to sources, the deal to unfreeze assets in South Korea is unrelated to the Vienna talks, which have been suspended due to some key sticking points between Tehran and Washington.

Asia & AmericasIranMiddle EastNewsSouth Korea
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