03:30 GMT24 January 2021
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    TEHRAN (Sputnik) - Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has discussed the recent detention of a South Korean-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf at a meeting with South Korea's First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong Kun, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

    A South Korean delegation led by Choi Jong Kun arrived in Tehran on Sunday. They have reportedly discussed the tanker's detention with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, who said the vessel was detained due to its polluting of Iranian territorial waters.

    "South Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong Kun called for speeding up the release of the tanker. Zarif stressed that the South Korean vessel was detained due to polluting the waters of the Persian Gulf and that the issue was of strictly technical nature and would be reviewed within the legal framework," the ministry said in a press release.

    Zarif also said that the Iranian government was limited in its ability to interfere with the legal proceedings, according to the press release.

    Another issue that the diplomats reportedly discussed was the freeze of an estimated $7 billion of Iranian assets in South Korean banks, as stated in the press release. Choi Jong Kun was quoted as promising on behalf of Seoul to make every effort to restore Tehran's access to the funds. Tehran has long advocated for the release of the sanctioned cash as a means of purchasing COVID-19 millions of vaccine doses for its populace.

    The South Korean tanker, Hankuk Chemi, was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Persian Gulf on January 4. The Iranian government said that the detention of oil tankers with a record of water pollution violations was a regular practice.


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