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6 Jan, 2021 11:13

South Korean delegation will head to Iran over tanker seized by Revolutionary Guard

South Korean delegation will head to Iran over tanker seized by Revolutionary Guard

A South Korean delegation is set to depart for Iran over a chemical tanker that was seized, along with the 20 crew members, by the country’s Revolutionary Guard.

Iran’s military seized the South Korean-flagged Hankuk Chemi, a tanker reportedly carrying some 7,200 tons of chemicals, in the Strait of Hormuz during its journey from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh claimed via state television that it was “purely a technical matter and the ship was taken to shore for polluting the sea.”

Tehran also denied the seizure was related to a financial spat with Seoul, as it has accused South Korea of having frozen seven billion dollars in Iranian money and refusing to transfer it under the pretext of complying with US sanctions.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam told reporters: “In the earliest possible time, a working-level delegation led by the regional director will be dispatched to Iran to try to resolve the issue on the ground through bilateral negotiations.”

Additionally, South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun is expected to proceed with a previously scheduled visit to Tehran to discuss issues between the two countries.

Also on rt.com Seoul dispatches anti-piracy unit to Persian Gulf after South Korean-flagged tanker seized by Iran

The United States waded into the situation on Tuesday, calling on Iran to release the tanker and claiming that the country “continues to threaten navigational rights and freedoms in the Persian Gulf as part of a clear attempt to extort the international community into relieving the pressure of sanctions.”

Other countries are stepping up security around their vessels in light of recent events, with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism warning its flagged vessels to use extra caution if they have to travel through the region.

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