South Korea’s foreign minister said on Tuesday she is making diplomatic efforts to secure the release of a South Korean-flagged tanker seized by Iran, Yonhap news agency reported.
Kang Kyung-wha said she responded to her counterparts in Iran on Monday and the ministry is now in talks with diplomats in Tehran and Seoul to resolve the issue, Yonhap said.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized the tanker in Gulf waters and detained its crew, Iranian media said on Monday.
Images released by #Iran|ian media Tasnim News of the South Korean Vessel HANKUK CHEMI being escorted back to an Iranian Port by #IRGC Navy after being seized due to "polluting the Persian Gulf" pic.twitter.com/4tDwhsfVjw— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) January 4, 2021
The incident comes amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to US sanctions.
Iranian state TV cited a Tehran government official as saying Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun had been due to discuss Iran’s demand that $7 billion in frozen funds be released.
In Seoul a foreign ministry official told Reuters “the plan is unclear as of now” regarding Choi’s visit.
Iranian media said on Monday that Iran’s IRGC had seized the tanker Hankuk Chemi over pollution violations. The vessel was carrying 7,200 tonnes of ethanol.