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Việt Nam regrets US’ decision to blacklist gas firm over deal with Iran: foreign ministry

Việt Nam regrets the US’ decision to sanction a Vietnamese gas transportation firm for allegedly facilitating the export of petrochemical products from Iran in contravention of sanctions.

The spokesperson for the Việt Nam Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the remark on Thursday during a regular press briefing in Hà Nội, where she commented that as a responsible member of the United Nations and of the international community, Việt Nam always fully observes the body’s resolutions.

Việt Nam-Iran relations are “always open, transparent and lawful,” Hằng said, adding that trade relations between the two countries are “strictly civilian” and involve goods that serve the essential needs of the peoples and do not run contrary to the many resolutions of the UN Security Council.

“Việt Nam finds it regrettable that the US has reached such a decision, and we strongly urge the US – with consideration towards the warm bilateral relations between the two countries – to contemplate removal of the sanction against the Việt Nam Gas & Chemicals Transportation Corporation without causing further difficulties to the Vietnamese businesses and companies engaging in ordinary business,” Hằng said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced it would “act against persons who support illicit actors engaged in the movement of Iranian petroleum sales,” blacklisting four entities – including China-based Donghai International Ship Management Limited, China-based Petrochem South East Limited, UAE-based Alpha Tech Trading FZE and UAE-based Petroliance Trading FZE, in addition to the Vietnamese company for alleged “significant transactions” for the transport of Iran’s oil products.

These companies are alleged to have had dealings with Iran’s Triliance Petrochemical, which was hit with sanctions by Washington in early 2020.

Currency manipulation

Also on Thursday, the Vietnamese foreign ministry responded to the US Treasury Department’s Wednesday decision to label Việt Nam as a currency manipulator for the first time after many threats.

Hằng said the State Bank of Việt Nam issued its statement regarding the matter this morning and local and foreign media have already widely carried the news.

“In the last 25 years, especially since the elevation of ties to the Comprehensive Partnership, the relations between Việt Nam and the US have witnessed strong growth across the board, including in the domain of economics, commerce and investment,” Hằng continued.

Việt Nam attaches special importance to trade relations with the US and always seriously implements high-level agreements and other bilateral trade commitments, according to Hằng.

Việt Nam always maintains dialogues and consultations with the US side in a constructive spirit to address issues in trade relations, with a view towards ensuring sustainability and harmonised interests between the two countries, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson added.

Mekong watch

Responding to a question over Việt Nam’s reaction to the December 15 launched US-backed Mekong Dam Monitor, aimed at tracking the activities of dams – especially China-run ones – in the upper parts of the Mekong River, Hằng said as a country in the Mekong region, Việt Nam welcomes all initiatives that contribute to the common efforts towards co-operation in the management and use of the Mekong water resources in a sustainable, fair and reasonable manner.

“We will look into the initiative and find ways to co-operate in a suitable fashion to help foster the sustainable development of the Mekong River basin,” she added.

Radioactive concerns

Asked for a response over recent reports from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute showing high levels of radioactivity in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea and currently contested between China and the Philippines, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson stated that relevant authorities pay great attention to this matter and are looking into the veracity of the information.

“It should be noted that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) clearly codified that countries and states have the obligation to protect and preserve the maritime environment, and respect the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction of other littoral states as identified in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS,” Hằng said.

The use, exploitation, and transportation of devices, equipment and materials that contain the risks radioactive hazards need to follow international law and regulations, norms and rules on assurance of nuclear safety as put in place by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) without jeopardising the peace and security in the region, the spokesperson stated. — VNS

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