TEHRAN (Iran News) – South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyon and Ali Larijani, advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, met on Monday at the Foreign Ministry Research Institute.
Chung also met with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Iranian parliament speaker. The talks mainly focused on ways to release the Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks.
During the meeting, Larijani welcomed the prime minister of South Korea and stressed the need to develop relations between the two countries in various fields.
Larijani also pointed to the blocked funds in South Korea, saying, “Our resources are entrusted to your country’s banks and your government should try to be trustworthy in this matter.”
The advisor to the Supreme Leader added, “Our resources should be released as soon as possible so that it does not adversely affect the relations between the two countries.”
Prime Minister Chung, while expressing satisfaction with his meeting with Larijani, promised that his government will seek to find an immediate solution for the release of Iranian resources.
He also stressed the need to develop long-term relations between the two countries in all fields.
“Nations know their friends in difficult days”
In the separate meeting with Chung, Ghalibaf harshly critiqued foreign policies followed by South Korea.
Pointing out that the relations between Iran and South Korea should return to pre-2018, Parliament Speaker Ghalibaf said, “Nations know their friends in difficult days. Therefore, the expectations of the Iranian people from South Korea have not been met.”
He said, “We believe that the vast, ancient and historical continent of Asia has a lot of potential. Therefore, expanding convergence among Asian countries is an important strategy in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I believe that Asian countries should pay attention to the issue of convergence and be at the forefront of world peace and progress by prioritizing comprehensive cooperation, including industry, technology and culture.”
Referring to the good relations that the two sides enjoyed prior to the illegal sanctions on Iran and expressing satisfaction with the visit of the prime minister’s visit to Tehran, Galibaf said, “Unfortunately, South Korea currently has no place in Iran’s foreign economic relations. In other words, economic and political relations, which were at the highest levels, have declined.”
South Korean firms, including LG and Samsung, left Iran after Donald Trump, the former U.S. president, quit the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 and imposed illegal sanctions on Tehran.
“If your ambassador in the Tehran Grand Bazaar asks people what has been the behavior of South Korea since 2018, he will realize that this behavior is not acceptable at all and the mentality of the people towards your country is negative,” Ghalibaf remarked.
The senior lawmaker said that all the nations in the world, especially the civilized and cultured nation of Iran, have come to know their friends in difficult days, seriously criticizing the action of Korean banks in blocking Iran’s access to its foreign currencies.
“We expect from you to provide immediate and practical solutions to solve the problem of Iran’s currencies and free our blocked funds,” the speaker pointed out.
Ghalibaf noted, “The expectation of the Iranian people has not been met by South Korea; even businessmen with good relations with South Korea are dissatisfied with the practice.”
However, the senior MP called the Korean prime minister’s visit to Tehran an appropriate step to improve the relations between the two countries.
“You are an experienced person in the field of politics and macro-management of the country. Therefore, you must see and understand the effects of the failure of Trump’s maximum pressure policy,” Ghalibaf added.
He said, “I believe that no issue can hinder a good cooperation between the two countries, including in humanitarian areas, medical issues such as COVID-19, supply of basic goods, etc. I hope this visit will help resume political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries in the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relationship. I hope this cooperation will be done at the best level.”
In the end, the speaker of the parliament called for parliamentary diplomacy and Iran’s parliamentary cooperation with the Korean Parliament. “This cooperation can lead to the development of relations between the two countries.”
He also invited the speaker of the Korean Parliament to visit Tehran.
For his part, Chung said he was the first South Korean prime minister to visit Iran in 44 years.
“Of course, in the past years, I visited Iran as the speaker of the parliament, and I met with high-ranking Iranian officials, so I hope this trip will be the resumption of good relations with Iran,” Chung said.
Pointing out that the next year coincides with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Iran and South Korea, the prime minister said, “In the Korean culture, the numbers 60 and 70 are important, so next year could be the beginning of good relations between the two countries.”
Referring to the good historical relations between the two countries, the top South Korean official added, “Undoubtedly, the visits of the officials of the two countries have led to the preservation of these relations; but unfortunately, from 2018 onwards, the relations between the two countries faced obstacles, which we are trying to remove.”
While confirming the words of the speaker of the parliament that the next century is the century of Asia, Chung continued, “Accordingly, I believe that Iran and South Korea, as two Asian countries, should maintain and strengthen their relations.”
Stating that a number of South Korean economic and political officials are accompanying him in the visit to Iran to find solutions for problems created in relations between the two countries, he said, “Considering the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in South Korea’s foreign relations, every effort will be made to overcome problems.”
Prime Minister Chung also expressed hope that Ghalibaf would accept the invitation of the speaker of the Korean Parliament to visit Seoul.
“Such a trip can be the beginning of new relations between the two countries and will help solve problems,” he pointed out.