South Korean Ambassador to Iran Ryu Jeong-Hyun highlighted the East Asian country’s willingness to boost economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic and said the level of bilateral trade should return to that of the pre-sanctions era.
Speaking at a meeting with the members of the Tabriz Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, in the northwestern city of Tabriz on Tuesday, the South Korean diplomat said areas of cooperation between Iran and S. Korea are limited to importing oil and exporting electronics and automobiles to the Islamic Republic.
He further emphasized that the two countries should try to expand their relations in various areas more than ever.
“I will do my best to strengthen Iran-Korea relations,” Ryu said, adding, “We are in a difficult situation but we are trying to improve these relations.”
In 2011, before the sanctions, Iran-Korea annual bilateral trade amounted to $20 billion, he said.
Unfortunately, the envoy added, it now stands at less than $7 billion, which is why Korean companies have reduced their workforce and staff. Small and medium-sized companies were forced to leave Iran, but we need to help these relationships grow.
The remarks come against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.