S.Korea, Iran vice FMs hold phone talks on frozen funds, bilateral ties
Seoul, July 13 (IANS) Senior diplomats of South Korea and Iran held phone talks on Wednesday to discuss ways to improve bilateral relations strained by the issue of Iranian funds frozen in Seoul, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.
During the phone call, First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and his Iranian counterpart and chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri-Kani, shared the latest development of negotiations aimed at reviving a 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and other pending bilateral issues, the Ministry said in a release.
Bilateral relations remain frayed over $7 billion in Iranian funds locked in two Korean banks under US sanctions, which were reimposed after then-US President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from the nuclear deal. Tehran has long called on Seoul to release the funds, Yonhap news agency reported.
During the talks, Bagheri-Kani said "the pressing bilateral issues" need to be promptly resolved, and Cho responded the Seoul government will make efforts to release the funds and resume oil imports when the Iranian nuclear agreement is restored, according to the Ministry.
Seoul officials have said the fate of the frozen funds depends on the results of Iran's nuclear talks with world powers, but indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington ended in late June without meaningful progress.