News ID: 234555
Published: 0322 GMT November 20, 2018

South Korea vows to maintain commercial ties with Iran

South Korea vows to maintain commercial ties with Iran

Seoul is determined to keep doing trade with Tehran despite US pressures, said South Korea's ambassador to Iran and reassured that Iran will overcome the unilateral US sanctions.

Ryu Jeong-hyun hailed Tehran-Seoul diplomatic relations, which date back to 1962, and contended that the two countries can proceed with commercial relations, reported Fars News Agency.

The diplomat, who was speaking during a visit to the northern Iranian city of Rasht where he met members of the city council on Monday, said, "Iran will surely overcome unilateral sanctions."

Noting that South Korea has been exempted from Iran-related sanctions, he said that his country can continue trade with Iran and buy oil.

"Ties might not be good at present. But I promise you they will be excellent in the future," he said.

"Mutual cooperation cannot be limited to merely importing oil from Iran; rather they can be promoted to global and regional spheres," he said.

Referring to Ramsar protocol, the envoy said that the protocol maintains that Iran pays due attention to environmental issues.

"I will do all in my power to overcome problems faced by the two countries in the field of environment and global issues," he said.

"I will support a sisterhood agreement between Rasht and one of the South Korean cities," he said, noting that Rasht is one of the Iranian pioneer cities in the field of culture and agriculture.

Head of Rasht City Council Amirhossein Alavi said that mutual interactions will surely benefit both sides.

He also voiced willingness for exchanging experience and using South Korean capacities in all fields, particularly environment.

On November 7, Iran and South Korea reached an agreement to use South Korean national currency (won) in bilateral trade to bypass US sanctions.

A day before that, the US announced South Korea, along with seven other countries, will be granted waivers on Iranian crude oil purchases. US exemptions were later extended to include Iraq and Afghanistan, making a total of 10 countries excused from the consequences of US sanctions.

On November 12, the southern Iranian province of Bushehr and a South Korean trade and commercial delegation signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to boost cooperation between the two countries.

The waiver would enable South Korean refiners to continue the purchase of Iranian condensate, which is ultralight oil used for various petrochemical products, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Following the waiver, South Korean Vice Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Cheong Seung-il, said the move has "considerably eased uncertainties surrounding trade with Iran", adding that the South Korean government will "continue to provide liquidity assistance to small- and medium-sized companies experiencing difficulties doing business with Iran and explore alternative markets", according to Yonhap.

The two sides will restart the won-based settlement of bilateral trade transactions via the Central Bank of Iran (CBI)'s accounts at two South Korean banks: Woori Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK).

The news agency quoted a source as saying that "it's expected to provide South Korean firms with more opportunities for the trade of non-sanctions items such as medical products, processed food and home appliances, although the exports of some products including steel and automobile parts will be affected by the sanctions".

South Korea is the third-largest buyer of Iranian oil after China and India.

South Korea has broad economic relations with Iran and is also a big buyer of oil and gas products from Iran. Seoul was among the first eight countries which the US exempted from the unilateral sanctions of Washington against Tehran.

South Korean officials in numerous occasions have reiterated the resolute will of their country to expand ties with Iran and a in a related front in February, former South Korean ambassador to Iran Kim Seung Ho underscored that Seoul supports the Korean companies' further cooperation and investment in Iran.

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