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S. Korea closely monitoring tensions in Middle East

All News 14:29 January 23, 2020

SEJONG, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance ministry said Thursday it is closely monitoring tensions in the Middle East, although there has been no further escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki held a meeting with relevant ministers earlier in the day to discuss the situation in the Middle East, the ministry said in a statement.

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran have eased, there is limited impact on local financial markets, the statement said.

Earlier this week, South Korea's defense ministry said it will dispatch troops to the Strait of Hormuz by expanding operational areas of its anti-piracy unit deployed nearby to help protect its vessels passing through the strategic waterway.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (R), who doubles as the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, speaks at a meeting to discuss ways to hone the competitiveness of South Korea's parts, materials and equipment industries at a dye manufacturing plant in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Yonhap)

The forces, however, will not join a U.S.-led coalition but conduct independent operations, a move seen as reflecting Seoul's consideration of relations with Tehran and Washington's request for contribution to its campaign to secure the waters off Iran.

Hong and relevant ministers also discussed countermeasures against Japan's export curbs, the ministry said.

Last July, Tokyo imposed tighter regulations on exports to Seoul of three materials that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays -- resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide. Japan later removed South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners.

South Korea views the Japanese moves as retaliation against last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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