TEHRAN (Dispatches) - South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said on Tuesday that the delegation, led by Director-General for African and Middle Eastern Affairs Koh Kyung-sok, will soon leave for the Iranian capital to resolve the issue of the seizure of MT Hankuk Chemi tanker through negotiations.
He added that South Korean and Iranian officials will discuss a wide range of other issues of mutual interest, and Seoul will do its utmost to find a swift solution to the matter.
Separately, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said on Tuesday that she was making diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the tanker.
Kang said she responded to Iranian officials on Monday, and that her ministry was engaged in talks with diplomats both in Tehran and Seoul.
The public relations office of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Navy said Monday that the South Korean-flagged MT Hankuk Chemi tanker had been seized upon a request by Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization and a verdict by the prosecutor office of Hormozgan province.
The statement added that the ship, carrying 7,200 tons of ethanol, was being held at Iran’s southern Bandar Abbas port city.
Earlier, Director-General for African and Middle Eastern Affairs Koh Kyung-sok met with Iranian Ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, Yonhap news agency reported.
The Iranian ambassador told reporters prior to the meeting that the tanker’s crew members were safe and healthy, but declined to comment on when the vessel would be released.
An estimated 10 trillion won ($9.2 billion) in Iranian funds is currently frozen at South Korean banks under US sanctions.
The figure was announced on Tuesday by South Korean news agency Yonhap, which quoted the country’s banks as saying.
As of September last year, about 3 trillion won worth of Iranian money was held at the Bank of Korea. The money was deposited by the Seoul branch of Bank Mellat of Iran.
Separately, about $7 billion worth of Iranian oil money was frozen at two South Korean banks — Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank.
Hossein Tanhaee, head of the Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce, reportedly said last year that the amount of Iran’s frozen funds in South Korea is between $6.5 billion and $9 billion.
Tensions between Seoul and Tehran rose on Monday after the IRGC seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Persian Gulf waters, citing "chemical pollution” offences.
A South Korean delegation is to visit Tehran in coming days to discuss possible resolution of the disputes.