Tehran, Iran – Iran on Monday warned that its seizure of a South Korean oil tanker in the Gulf must not be politicized, after the United States and France urged the Islamic Republic to release the vessel.
“We have repeatedly said … to intervening parties, whether it is the United States or France, that the matter does not concern them at all and that they will not help solve a technical problem if they politicize it, ”Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed said. Khatibzadeh.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the Hankuk Chemi and arrested its multinational crew of 20 near the strategic Strait of Hormuz a week ago.
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The move comes as Tehran urged Seoul to release billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets in South Korea under US sanctions.
The United States and France called on Iran to release the ship.
A spokesperson for the US State Department called the seizure “part of a clear attempt to extort the international community to relieve the pressure of sanctions.”
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the seizure “fueled tensions in the region.”
A South Korean delegation led by Foreign Ministry official Koh Kyung-sok (left) leaves for Tehran via Qatar at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on January 6, 2021 (Credit : YONHAP / AFP)
South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a long-planned visit.
South Korean news agency Yonhap said Choi’s goal during his visit was to “negotiate an early release” of the tanker and his crew, which includes South Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Burmese sailors.
But according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, “the main objective” of his visit was “to discuss ways to access Iranian funds in (South) Korea”.
Khatibzadeh said on Monday that the South Koreans “had questions about technical issues with the ship that we have responded to,” without giving details.