South Korea looks forward to normalization of mutual humanitarian trade

Financial Tribune – A senior South Korean diplomat, who has been engaged in talks with the United States over Iran sanctions, said Seoul is hopeful that humanitarian trade with Tehran will come back on track in the near future.

Hong Jin-wook, director general for South Korean Foreign Ministry’s African and Middle Eastern Affairs Bureau, who last month led a delegation to the US for talks over the sanctions on Iran, made the remarks in a recent interview with Financial Tribune.

He expressed concern about the escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, and its pressure on “cordial” and “friendly” ties between Iran and South Korea, stressing that his country is determined to preserve the “longstanding” relationship despite the current difficult circumstances.

The South Korean official said he recently visited the US with the aim of exploring ways to uphold mutual business ties during these hard times and met with high-ranking American officials from the US State Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is in charge of enforcing sanctions. He discussed solutions to ease humanitarian exports to Iran, which have been affected by the restoration of tough US restrictions after its pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal last year.

Hong said the negotiations were centered on how to facilitate transactions on non-sanctioned humanitarian goods.

“Discussions are ongoing and we hope that we could resume trade in humanitarian products such as medicines, medical devices and food items soon,” he said.