Deputy Foreign Minister urges Qatar’s support for ship’s release

SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) – First Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun has asked Qatar for its support for the speedy release of the South Korean ship and its crew members detained by Iran in meetings with senior officials Qatari officials, the South Korean foreign ministry said Thursday.

He made this request when he met on Wednesday (Qatari time) Mohamed ben Abdulrahman ben Jassim Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Soltan ben Saad Al-Muraikhi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to discuss other bilateral issues in Doha, the ministry said.

Choi’s trip to Qatar came after his visit to Iran, where a South Korean oil tanker and its 20 crew members including five South Koreans have been detained in a port since January 4 for allegations of marine pollution. Negotiations over the seized vessel took place in Tehran but there was little progress.

“Deputy Minister Choi … has requested the greatest possible support from the Qatari side to resolve the issue of Iran’s recent seizure of the South Korean vessel,” the ministry said in a statement.

Choi also discussed a variety of bilateral issues with officials in the Middle East country, including ways to increase cooperation in the energy development and shipping sectors, according to the ministry.

During its meeting with Qatari Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, the two parties agreed to strengthen the economic partnership to move in this direction. Choi noted in particular that the agreement reached last year between South Korean shipbuilding companies and Qatar Petroleum (QP) for the construction of liquefied natural gas transport vessels illustrates the solid trust between the two countries.

During meetings with senior foreign policy officials, Choi welcomed the statement adopted at a recent summit among Gulf Cooperation Council member states, including Saudi Arabia, to restore ties with Qatar, according to the ministry.

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