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S/Korea to dispatch diplomat for Tehran talks after Iran seizes tanker



S/Korea to dispatch diplomat for Tehran talks after Iran seizes tanker

…Agreement may be South Korean won, for Vaccine!***

South Korea is dispatching a delegation to Iran, on Tuesday, to seek the release of a tanker seized in the Gulf waters by Iranian forces.

The delegation, with a senior diplomat, is set to go ahead with a planned visit Tehran on Sunday amid tensions over $7 billion in Iranian funds frozen in Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions.

News of the visits came as Seoul’s Foreign Ministry called in the Iranian ambassador to South Korea for a meeting and urged the early release of the South Korean-flagged tanker and its crew of 20.

It was carrying a cargo of more than 7,000 tonnes of ethanol when it was seized on Monday over what Iranian media said were pollution violations.

The incident comes as Iran shows increasing signs of willingness to assert its claims in the region as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office later this month, succeeding Donald Trump.

On Monday, Tehran also said it had resumed 20 per cent uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear facility.

The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after Washington withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.

Asked about the status of the ship’s crew before his meeting at the Seoul foreign ministry, Iranian ambassador, Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, told reporters “all of them are safe”.

Also read:  FONOP: Chinese warship ‘shadows’ U.S. destroyer in South China Sea

Iranian state TV previously cited a Tehran government official as saying South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Choi Jong-Kun, had been scheduled to visit before the seizure of the tanker Hankuk Chemi to discuss Iran’s demand that the frozen funds be released.

Vice-minister Choi will discuss “various pending issues” between the two countries on top of the seizure, foreign ministry spokesman, Choi Young-sam, told a briefing in Seoul on Tuesday.

“In the earliest possible time, a working-level delegation led by the regional director will be dispatched to Iran to try to resolve the issue on the ground through bilateral negotiations,’’ spokesman Choi said.

The ship’s Busan-based operator, Taikun Shipping Co. Ltd., told Reuters there was nothing to indicate before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.

“If it really was marine pollution, as they (Iranian media) say, the coast guard was supposed to approach the ship first,’’ Taikun’s Management Director, Lee Chun-hee, said by telephone.

“But instead, armed soldiers approached the crew and said they needed to be investigated.’’

South Korea’s Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha, said on Tuesday, she was making diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the tanker and that she had made contact with her counterpart in Tehran, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Tilak Doshi, a visiting senior fellow at Middle East Institute, National University Singapore said the incident provided an example of Iran’s willingness to flex its muscle as Joe Biden prepares to take office and that the frozen assets would likely be raised in talks with Seoul.

“No doubt, in negotiations for the release of the tanker and its crew, the release of the funds by South Korea will be the key demand on the Iranian side,’’ he said.

Last Sunday the Tehran Times newspaper reported Iran was hoping to negotiate an agreement to use the frozen funds to “barter” for vaccine doses in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic and other commodities.

According to Yonhap, a foreign ministry official said the Iranian government had tried to secure vaccines through the global COVAX initiative, backed by the World Health Organisation.

Tehran had been in talks with the ministry and the U.S. Treasury to pay for the doses with South Korean won, Yonhap said, citing a source in the ministry.







Foreign News

Sri Lankan President Thanks Seychelles Defence Forces For Rescuing Sri Lankan Vessel From Somali Pirates



President Ramkalawan says Seychellois military boarded boat with utmost courage to take complete control

 The Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) Special Forces and Seychelles Coast Guards on board Coast Guards vessel Topaz led a successful operation to regain control of a Sri Lankan vessel hijacked by armed Somali pirates.

Seychellois special military forces boarded the boat with utmost courage to take complete control of the vessel and rescue our Sri Lankan brothers.

The Commander in Chief of the Seychelles, President Wavel Ramkalawan has spoken to the Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette to congratulate the Special Forces and Coast Guards team on a well-executed and successful mission.

“This is the spirit of the Seychelles Defence Forces. Professionalism, courage, and bravery are the tenets of the new spirit in the force. Though small, we will make our contribution to attaining maritime security, peace, and determination in the fight against terrorism to ensure that the world, especially in our part of the Indian Ocean remains a safe and peaceful region. Once again, I reiterate the  pride and confidence of the Seychellois nation in the Seychelles Defence Forces.”

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Foreign News

GoG: Promoting Trans-boundary Management For Sustainable Socio-Economic Development



…Mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of the Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME)

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 23, 2024/ — From January 21st to 27th, 2024, AU-IBAR is on a mission in the republics of Benin and Togo. The mission is dedicated to supporting the implementation of a Transboundary Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiative between the two nations. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), under the project “Conservation of Aquatic Biodiversity within the Framework of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy,” this initiative holds the promise of fostering socio-economic development through the judicious use of marine resources.

Collaborative Efforts: AU-IBAR is collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) body, the Abidjan Convention, and the World Bank-funded West African Coastal Area Management (WACA) Project. The SIDA-funded project, implemented by AU-IBAR, involves an assessment to map the extent of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) usage in Africa as a management tool for the conservation of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems in the west, central, and northern regions of Africa.

Mission Objectives: This mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME). The current objective is to secure joint expert validation of the SoME report and obtain high-level political endorsement for the provisions of the jointly validated report, demonstrating the commitment of both countries to the cause. Participants in the joint validation workshop include WACA project-nominated committee members from Benin and Togo, representatives from the Abidjan Convention, and government authorities from both nations, alongside relevant AU-IBAR staff.

Political Commitment: The opening statements during the joint meeting saw representatives from the Governments of Benin and Togo, the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, and the representative of the Director of AU-IBAR express unwavering commitment to the transboundary marine management process. Both the Director of AU-IBAR and the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention reiterated their support for the Governments of Benin and Togo in realizing their shared vision for the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in the designated shared maritime boundary.

Key Outcomes: The pinnacle achievement of the joint meeting is the validation of the study report on the state of the marine environment between Benin and Togo. This validation marks a significant milestone towards establishing the transboundary MSP between the two countries. AU-IBAR Director, DR Huyam Salih, emphasized that this accomplishment is a crucial step forward in enhancing aquatic biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in the Gulf of Guinea.

Conclusion: The joint expert consultation workshop serves as a testament to the collaborative efforts aimed at promoting transboundary management of shared marine aquatic ecosystems in the Gulf of Guinea. The validated report and political commitment from Benin and Togo are integral to realizing the socio-economic development potential inherent in the sustainable use of marine resources. As AU-IBAR continues its mission, the hope is that this initiative will serve as a model for other regions seeking to harmonize efforts for the conservation and management of their shared marine ecosystems.
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Foreign News

U.S.-British Strikes In Yemen Left 5 Dead, Say Houthi Rebels



The U.S. and British military strikes in Yemen have left five Houthi fighters dead and six others injured, the Iran-aligned rebels said on Friday, vowing retaliation.

“The American and British enemy bears full responsibility for its criminal aggression,’’ the Houthi military spokesman Yehya Saree said in a statement.

Saree said the massive attack had targeted several Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen including the capital Sana’a.

“It will not pass unanswered and without punishment.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces will not hesitate to target sources of threat and all hostile targets on the ground and in the sea,’’ he said. 

  • dpa
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