South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun, in a meeting with Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, President of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, underlining the importance of Iran-South Korea relations and Seoul’s determination to expand cooperation, expressed regret over the unintended problems imposed on bilateral relations between the two countries and at the same time expressed the hope that by solving the existing problems, effective steps can be taken for the sustainable development of the relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Referring to the Iranian people’s respect for the Korean people, Dr. Kharrazi strongly criticized the approach of the Korean government and companies in surrendering to the US pressures and participating in the US cruel sanctions against the Iranian people and said: In the past, the relations between Iran and South Korea were excellent, but at present, unfortunately, and due to the Korean government’s compliance with the US pressures, 7 billion dollars of the Iranian assets have been taken hostage in the Korean banks, and we cannot even withdraw money from our accounts to buy medicine.

He added: In recent years, Korean companies have lost good opportunities in Iran, and sanctions have made Iran to focus on its domestic production capacity to the extent that now we are self-sufficient in many fields, including in home appliances, and if relations between the two countries become normal in future, Korean companies, instead of selling their goods to Iran, should think about investing, transferring technical knowhow and participating in production in Iran.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of South Korea also presented a report on his meetings in Tehran and expressed satisfaction over the possibility of his making a telephone call to the captain of the detained South Korean oil tanker in Iran and the consular access of the Korean embassy to the ship’s crew, stressing the need to improve Seoul-Tehran relations. He further remarked that his visit to Iran should have taken place earlier and that South Korea was emphatic on the improvement of relations with Iran.

In response to the request of the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Korea to help lift the Korean ship seizure and to expedite the process, Kharrazi said: The seizure of the Korean ship is a purely technical and legal matter the case of which is in the hands of the judiciary which is independently pursuing and dealing with it.

He added: Traffic of Korean ships continues in the Persian Gulf like other ships, and this shows that the seizure of this ship is not politically motivated.

The President of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations also expressed the hope that the visit of the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Korea will help the officials of that country to have a better understanding of the realities of Iran and the new opportunities for cooperation.