Iran criticizes S. Korea for withholding money that "could be spent on food and medicine"
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The Iranian foreign minister publicly criticized the South Korean government, claiming that the Iranian funds that are currently tied up in South Korea because of US sanctions represent money that would be spent on buying food and medicine for the Iranian people.
“We told South Korean officials that they had frozen the money of the Central Bank of Iran which is spent on [Iranian] people’s food and medicines,” Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying in an article on Iran Front Page, an Iranian news website, on Jan. 20.
“We said that they had held Iranian people’s food and drugs upon US orders,” Zarif added.
“I told them they should know that this move will, in the future, affect Iranian people’s attitude toward South Korea,” Zarif said.
Quoting Zarif, Iran Front Page also said that “the final losers in this game will be South Korea and its industries.”
Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Zarif had described proposals made by South Korea during the two countries’ negotiations as inappropriate.
On Jan. 4, the Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker, was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian government’s official justification is that the ship had been polluting the ocean.
But Iran has also demanded that South Korea release US$7 billion in Iranian funds that are currently frozen in South Korean banks because of American sanctions.
The South Korean government dispatched a delegation under First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun to Iran on Jan. 10 to discuss the issue of the seized ship and the frozen funds, but so far no solution is in sight.
By Cho Ki-weon, staff reporter
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