Deal on Iran oil imports in final stage, Bahk says

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Deal on Iran oil imports in final stage, Bahk says

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan said on Wednesday that Seoul is nearing a deal with Washington on crude oil imports from Iran.

“In general, consultations are proceeding smoothly. So, I don’t think there will be a big problem,” Bahk told reporters here.

He arrived in Washington earlier in the day to attend a gathering of G-20 finance ministers and the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Seoul is seeking a waiver from Washington’s sanctions against Iran’s oil sector under a new law aimed at tackling the financial source of its nuclear program.

The law would prevent any financial institution dealing with Iran’s central bank from accessing the U.S. financial system.

But it allows the U.S. government to issue waivers to firms in countries that “significantly” reduce oil imports from Iran. The U.S. should decide on countries eligible for waivers by June 28. Korea and the U.S. have been in talks over how much Seoul should cut. South Korea imports nearly 10 percent of its oil demands from Iran.

The minister said the consultations are “in the final stage.”

There is no “specifically contentious issue or a tug-of-war,” he said, refusing to go into further details.

He pointed out that the U.S. is also in similar consultations with about a dozen other countries.

A senior White House official earlier said the U.S. and Korea have been engaged in “constructive” discussions on the matter.

In a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of this week’s sessions, Bahk said he would focus efforts on drumming up support for Korea’s bid to become host of the headquarters of the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The GCF, a UN-operated fund to be launched next year, is designed to help developing countries fight climate change. The GCF will play the role of the IMF in the environmental field, Bahk said. The location of the GCF secretariat will be selected in December. Bahk said he is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the U.S., China, Russia, Brazil, India and Canada. He plans to return to Seoul tomorrow. Yonhap

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