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Mellat Bank to Normalize Seoul Operations

Mellat Bank to Normalize Seoul Operations Mellat Bank to Normalize Seoul Operations

Iran's Mellat Bank plans to normalize operations of its branch in Seoul as early as next month following the lifting of sanctions, a bank official said Wednesday.

Last month, the US, UN and the European Union removed decades-long economic curbs on Tehran following its landmark nuclear agreement with Washington and five other world powers.

Since the opening of the branch in the South Korean capital in June 2001, Mellat had supported bilateral trade and foreign exchange transactions, as well as the transfer of wages for Iranians working in South Korea, the Korea Times reported.

Its operations, however, were restricted in 2010 upon the international economic and financial sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear energy program, with the bank carrying out limited won-based transactions.

"We've been working to rebuild the necessary infrastructure to resume normal operations," said Kim Tae-gil, the head of the Seoul branch.

The restoration of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system, a key platform for international transactions, will be completed within next week, which means it will be allowed to issue letters of credit and engage in the trade business, according to the official.

"Discussions are also under way with the US to establish the substitute settlement system using euro, as we cannot take US dollars when trading with Iran due to separate sanctions by Washington, and we expect to reach positive conclusions within next month," Kim said.

Following the lifting of sanctions, Iran's Persia International Bank has also been pushing to set up a branch in Seoul amid hopes for brisk bilateral exchanges. If given the nod, the Persia Bank, known as one of four major banks in Iran, would be the second Iranian bank operating in South Korea.