S. Korea, U.S. remain apart over Iran sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea and the United States only reaffirmed their differences over Seoul's demand for an exception from the restoration of sanctions on Iranian oil imports during their talks in New York this week, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

The two sides held their third meeting on Tuesday (New York time), led by Yun Kang-hyeon, Seoul's deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, and Francis Fannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for the bureau of energy resources.

Yun reiterated Seoul's call for the exception, saying that if the sanctions are reimposed in November, they would have a "great impact" on the South Korean economy heavily reliant on foreign oil.

But Fannon argued that even if Seoul gets an exception, the benefit from it would only be limited. He added that the Trump administration will consider the "special situation" South Korea faces.

The U.S. has pressed South Korea and some other nations to halt their oil imports from Tehran or face so-called secondary sanctions with the May announcement of its exit from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The 180-day grace period is to end on Nov. 4.

Seoul hopes for a conditional waiver, similar to a measure put in place under the Obama administration. At that time, South Korea significantly reduced its oil imports from Iran.

"The Seoul government will continue efforts to minimize the impact of the restoration of the sanctions on our firms operating in Iran thorough consultations with the U.S. for an exception until the waiver ends," the ministry said in a press release.

The first round of the allies' talks was held in Seoul in June, while the second one took place in Washington the following month.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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