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'Not easy' for South Korea to get US Iran sanctions waiver extended: official

Seoul — The South Korean government expects it will be "not so easy" to get its waiver from the US' oil sanctions on Iran extended beyond May, a South Korean foreign ministry official said Friday.

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South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister Yun Kang-hyeon held meetings Thursday in Washington on Iran sanctions with Brian Hook, the US State Department's special representative for Iran, and Francis Fannon, assistant secretary at the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, the South Korean official said.

"We will make best efforts to get the waiver extended, but the situation seems not so easy," said the official, declining to elaborate on the outcome of the meetings.

The latest meetings comes after Yun met with Fannon in Seoul in February, when the two discussed issues including Iranian crude imports and South Korea's further diversification of crude supply sources.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later Friday in Washington ahead of President Moon Jae-in's visit to Washington on April 10.

South Korea resumed crude imports from Iran in January after a four-month hiatus. It fully suspended crude imports from Iran last September ahead of the re-imposition of US sanctions.

It is among eight countries granted a 180-day waiver by the US to the sanctions on Iran last November, enabling them to continue to import Iranian oil through May 4.

South Korea's crude imports from Iran fell 7.1% year on year to 8.44 million barrels in February, but surged more than four times from 1.958 million barrels in January, latest Korea National Oil Corp. data showed.

Over January-February, South Korea's Iranian crude imports were down 38.5% on year at 10.398 million barrels, and appeared to be all South Pars condensate, the data showed.

-- Charles Lee in Seoul, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Meghan Gordon in Washington, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Takeo Kumagai in Tokyo, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Wendy Wells, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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