Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: South Korea, Iran summon each other’s ambassadors

Iran and South Korea summoned each other’s envoys in a deepening spat over comments by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol that described the Islamic republic as the enemy of the United Arab Emirates. Yoon, speaking to South Korean troops stationed in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, said South Korea and the UAE are under “very similar” circumstances, each facing North Korea and Iran as “the enemy, biggest threat.” Yoon’s office has said his comment was intended as words of encouragement for South Korean soldiers while the foreign ministry said on Thursday it had repeatedly offered explanations to Tehran. Unappeased, Tehran summoned South Korean ambassador Yun Kang-hyeon on Wednesday, warning that bilateral ties could be reviewed if the issue was not resolved, according to a report from Iran’s official IRNA news agency. Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal affairs, Reza Najafi, told Yun that Iran has “deep-rooted and friendly relations” with most neighbours. He described Yoon’s comment as “interfering”, adding that Yoon was “undermining peace and stability in the region,” the report said. Hours later on Thursday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said its vice minister Cho Hyun-dong had called in Iran’s ambassador in Seoul, Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, to complain about Najafi’s remarks. The ministry said Najafi had made a “completely groundless” claim that Yoon had hinted at developing a nuclear weapon. (https://neuters.de/world/south-korea-envoy-iran-summoned-over-yoons-enemy-remarks-media-2023-01-19/) Relations between Seoul and Tehran had already been testy over frozen Iranian funds in South Korea and suspected arms dealings between Iran and North Korea.

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