South Korea says Iran’s frozen funds transferred to a third country

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea confirmed on Tuesday Iranian funds that had been frozen in South Korea have been “successfully” transferred to a third country, after a U.S.-bound plane carrying five Americans freed by Iran left Doha as part of a prisoner swap.

A plane sent by Qatar flew the five U.S. citizens and two of their relatives out of Tehran after both sides got confirmation the $6 billion was transferred from South Korea to Qatari accounts, a source earlier told Reuters.

“The Iranian funds that had been frozen in South Korea due to financial sanctions on Iran have been recently transferred to a third country successfully under close coordination among the involved countries,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The money in Qatar would be spent on food, medicine and other humanitarian items as it was in South Korea, the ministry said.

“Our government expects our bilateral relations to further develop on the occasion of the transfer of the frozen funds,” the ministry said, and thanked the governments of Qatar and Switzerland for their “constructive role” in resolving the issue.

Qatar mediated indirect U.S.-Iran talks on the detainees while Switzerland, which represents U.S. interests in Tehran because the U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, helped with the transfer of funds from South Korea to Qatar.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonali Paul)