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(LEAD) S. Korea ready to cope with potential fallout from Mideast crisis

All News 18:53 January 06, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details, updates throughout)

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is fully prepared to deal with any fallout from the escalating tensions in the Middle East following last week's killing by a U.S. drone of a top Iranian general, the country's finance ministry said Monday.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki presided over a closed-door meeting, which included heads of financial regulators, ministry officials said.

South Korea said it will consider releasing its oil inventories in case the country faces disruptions in securing crude from the Middle East.

As of end-November, the amount of the government's oil reserves came to 96.5 million barrels. When considering the savings from the private sector, the amount is estimated at 200 million barrels.

(LEAD) S. Korea ready to cope with potential fallout from Mideast crisis - 1

During the meeting, the participants said South Korea is not facing an immediate interruption of its imports of resources, but the country still need to closely monitor the situations, considering its heavy dependency on the Middle East for energy.

The Middle East accounted for 70 percent of South Korea's imports of crude over the January-November period of 2019. That of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was estimated at 38 percent.

Military tensions have been sharply rising since last week's killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, arguably Iran's most powerful commander, by a U.S. air strike.

Global oil prices have soared, raising concerns that a much-awaited recovery in exports may be further delayed.

With the Middle East tensions knocking investor sentiment, South Korean stocks dropped and the won currency weakened on Monday.

The stock market's main KOSPI index dived 0.98 percent to close at 2,155.07 on Monday.

kdh@yna.co.kr

colin@yna.co.kr
(END)

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