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US foreign policy

Iran says US approved release of $3 bln of Iran’s funds in Iraq, Oman, S. Korea

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The United States has agreed to the release of $3 billion in Iranian funds that have been frozen in Iraq, Oman and South Korea due to Washington’s sanctions, Iranian trade official Hamid Hosseini told the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday.

Hosseini, board member of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, had tweeted on Friday that Washington approved the release of frozen Iranian assets at the Trade Bank of Iraq, without mentioning the value of the assets.

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Hosseini on Sunday confirmed that the US agreed to the release of $3 billion in Iranian frozen assets in the three countries.

US sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump have prevented Iran from accessing tens of billions of its assets in foreign banks.

Iranian frozen assets in Iraq amount to more than $6 billion, according to Iranian officials.

The head of the Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce said in October Iranian frozen funds in South Korea are worth $8.5 billion and added that their release depended on the outcome of the US presidential election.

Iranian officials have not commented on the value of Iran’s frozen assets in Oman.

Iran’s economy has been hit hard since 2018 when Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sweeping sanctions on the country.

Iran’s chances of gaining access to billions of dollars of its frozen assets abroad have risen significantly since Trump, who pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran, left the White House.

Under President Joe Biden, Washington has signalled its willingness to return to talks to revive the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its nuclear program in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The Biden administration revoked snapback sanctions claimed by the Trump administration against Iran and also revoked travel restrictions on senior Iranian diplomats at the United Nations.

Last month, South Korea said it reached an agreement with Iran over the release of Tehran’s frozen funds in its banks but signalled that the agreement was effectively subject to US approval.

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