December 9, 2021

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Iran called on Japan to release funds frozen due to US sanctions

Japan and South Korea are major sources of technology, and their banks have billions of dollars in Iranian assets.

On Sunday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called on Japan to release the Islamic Republic’s funds frozen in the island country as a result of US sanctions. This was reported to AFP, referring to the Iranian government’s statement.

Iranian assets held in Japanese banks

“The delay in releasing Iranian assets in Japanese banks is not justified,” Raisi told Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimiko Motegi, who is on a working visit to Tehran.

Japan and South Korea are major technology exporters and their banks have billions of dollars in Iranian assets, according to AFP.

However, these funds have been blocked since 2018, when the government of then US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Tehran and again imposed sweeping sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Washington said in mid-July that it would allow Tehran to use the money to pay off its debts in South Korea and Japan, but insisted it could not be transferred directly to Iran.

Between April and June, six rounds of negotiations took place in Vienna between Iran and world powers in an effort to renew the agreement. The last round of negotiations was held on June 20, with no date set for the next meeting.

Motegi arrived in Iran on Sunday before visiting Turkey and Iraq. He will travel from the Islamic Republic to visit Qatar.

The head of Japanese diplomacy told a news conference after meeting with Raisi that during his work trip he discussed the situation in Afghanistan, which was seized by the Taliban militant movement a week ago.

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First visit since 2019

Motegi said he agreed with Iran, Turkey and Iraq on the need to cooperate so that the situation in Afghanistan does not become another “destabilizing factor”.

Earlier Sunday, the Japanese foreign minister also met with his colleague in the Iranian ministry, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Iranian news agency (ISNA) concluded that the two politicians discussed bilateral, regional and international issues. Motegi’s two-day visit to Tehran is Tokyo’s first visit to Iran since Ibrahim Raisi became the new president, and the first since 2019, when then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran.

Japan recently donated 3 million Astrazeneca vaccines to Iran, the most severely affected coronavirus epidemic in the Middle East.