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(3rd LD) S. Korea hails end to U.N.-led sanctions on Iran

All News 13:23 January 17, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS Seoul's lifting of financial restrictions in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Sunday it will step up "reciprocal cooperation" with Iran as international sanctions on the country have been lifted in a follow-up to a nuclear deal.

The government welcomed the announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Tehran has complied with the agreement made half a year ago with the U.S. and five other global powers on its nuclear program.

The move has effectively terminated international sanctions on Iran under a U.N. resolution and it will also require the U.S. and the European Union to roll back or ease bilateral sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

"The government plans to further promote reciprocal cooperation between South Korea and Iran through close joint work among the relevant ministries," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The faithful implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal is expected to help reinforce the global nonproliferation regime and contribute to the peace and stability of the Middle East, it added.

South Korea also vowed to strengthen efforts to denuclearize North Korea via international cooperation and to ensure that the U.N. Security Council adopt a strong and comprehensive resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear test earlier this month.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se sent a congratulatory letter to his Iranian counterpart over the lifting of sanctions, according to the ministry.

Yun described the lifting of the sanctions as a win-win situation and said it serves as a lesson to the Korean Peninsula, where tensions have spiked following the North's nuclear test.

He also asked Iran to pay special attention to the denuclearization of North Korea. Iran was believed to have maintained close relations with North Korea.

Seoul's trade ministry, meanwhile, said it will immediately lift restrictions on the bilateral trade of oil, petrochemicals, cars and other key items.

South Korea will determine the scope of strategic materials to be removed from trade restrictions, depending on the level of the international community's agreement with Tehran.

The two countries will also reactivate a joint economic committee in December in order to discuss ways to boost bilateral economic cooperation, the ministry added. The committee's meeting was last held in 2006.

In the first 11 months of last year, bilateral trade came to US$6 billion, compared with $17 billion in 2011.

The finance ministry said that in line with the international move, the Bank of Korea immediately lifted its approval system for financial transactions with Iran, which was introduced in 2010 following the United Nations' sanctions against Tehran.

However, the South Korean currency should continue to be used in settling transactions with Iran due to Washington's restrictions on the use of the dollar in deals with Iranian firms, it added.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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