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US urges South Korea to cut Iranian oil imports

18 january 2012, 10:00
0
Robert Einhorn (L), the U.S. State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, talks with South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac. ©REUTERS/Lee Jae Won
Robert Einhorn (L), the U.S. State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, talks with South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac. ©REUTERS/Lee Jae Won
A senior US official urged South Korea and other countries Tuesday to reduce purchases of crude oil from Iran in line with a US-led drive to sanction Tehran for its nuclear programme, AFP reports.

Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, made his comments when he held talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae-Shin.

"We are urging all of our partners to help us, to work with us in putting pressure on the government of Iran to get it to negotiate seriously," said Einhorn, who arrived Monday for a three-day visit.

"We are urging them to reduce their purchases of crude oil from Iran and to unwind their financial dealings with the central bank of Iran."

Einhorn, however, also pledged to be "very sensitive" to the economic needs of strong allies.

Highly industrialised South Korea, which imports all its crude, is a close ally of the United States and 28,500 US troops are based in the country.

But in the first 11 months of last year, it imported 9.6 percent of its total crude needs from Iran.

As part of a drive to shut down Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme, US President Barack Obama last month signed a bill that imposes tough sanctions against financial institutions dealing with Tehran's central bank.

South Korea currently deals with the central bank to make payments for its crude imports.

Einhorn is accompanied by Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes.

Kim stressed South Korea's support for international efforts to resolve the nuclear issue but also highlighted fears of economic damage.

"In fact, many Koreans are quite worried about the sanctions against Iran at this time," he told reporters. "But I do hope we closely cooperate with each other and try to minimise this adverse effect."

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