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Iran releases 19 crewmembers of detained S. Korean ship, but not captain or vessel Updated: 2021-02-03 10:04:47 KST

Iran has decided to release 19 crewmembers of a South Korean vessel that was detained by Iran for a month, except for the captain.
A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry told state media Tuesday, that the crew received permission to leave the country following a request by the South Korean government.
Seoul's foreign ministry said the decision was reached after a phone conversation on Tuesday between South Korea's first vice foreign minister Choi Jong-kun and his Iranian counterpart Seyyed Abbas Araghchi.

Twenty crew were on board, including five South Korean nationals, 11 from Myanmar, two from Vietnam and two from Indonesia.
The South Korean captain and the ship, however, were not allowed to leave due to ongoing investigations for alleged "environmental pollution".
In January, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards (core) Corps seized the South Korean oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz citing "environmental pollution", a claim for which it has provided no evidence.

Seoul's vice foreign minister urged Iranian authorities to make efforts for a prompt release of the captain and the vessel, while agreeing to continue dialogue with Tehran to resolve a series of issues, including Iran's frozen assets in South Korea.
Iran insists the seizure was only because of the "technical issue", not because of the frozen money, but it has publicly complained over its assets frozen in South Korea that are said to be worth around 7 billion U.S. dollars.
The money was seized after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Choi said Seoul will promptly do what it can on its own, while at the same time, communicating with Washington on matters that the South Korean government cannot do unilaterally due to the U.S. sanctions.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.
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