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Russia Summons South Korea Envoy Over 'Detained Shipping Vessel'

South Korean Ambassador to Russia Woo Yoon-keun says that he expects the issue to be "definitively" resolved within the next day or so. (file photo)

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it has summoned South Korea's ambassador in Moscow to demand that Seoul “immediately” allow a Russian shipping vessel to leave the port of Busan.

The vessel, the Sevastopol, is being "illegally" held in Busan, the ministry said on October 1, without saying what had served as the reason for the alleged detention

A statement said the Russian side demanded that the South Korean "maritime authorities' ban on the vessel leaving the port be immediately cancelled."

Russian news agencies quoted the South Korean ambassador, Woo Yoon-keun, as saying that he expects the issue to be "definitively" resolved on October 2.

"We expect that relations between Russia and South Korea will continue to develop successfully," he also told journalists.

Russian media reported that the Sevastopol and its crew of 14 Russians docked at Busan in mid-August for repairs.

A vessel named Sevastopol was one of six Russian-flagged ships targeted by U.S. sanctions in August for allegedly helping North Korea evade United Nations sanctions.

The vessel's operator, Gudzon Shipping Co., was also sanctioned based on an accusation of conducting unlawful trade with North Korea.

Russia denied the U.S. allegations and said it was working on retaliatory measures.

The U.S. sanctions block any assets that the three companies may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

Despite having opened direct talks with Pyongyang, Washington continues to press for full compliance with existing international sanctions against North Korea to keep pressure on it to end its programs for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

While it has less influence on North Korea than China does, Russia has maintained good relations with Pyongyang.

Both Moscow and Beijing have resisted U.S. demands to cut ties.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, Interfax, and TASS