U.S. official on sanction affairs to visit Seoul this week: sources

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- A senior U.S. diplomat dealing with sanctions will likely visit Seoul this week amid expectations that Western countries may impose sanctions on Russia following a recent downing of a Malaysian airliner, government sources said Monday.

Peter Harrell, deputy assistant secretary for counter threat finance and sanctions at the U.S. State Department, is expected to arrive in Seoul on Monday for a two-day visit, during which sanctions imposed on Iran and Russia are expected to be high on his agenda with Korean officials, the sources said.

Harrell is likely to explain his country's tougher sanctions imposed on Russia related to the Ukraine crisis and may request cooperation from South Korea over its possible move to slap sanctions on the country over the downing of the Malaysian plane, they added.

In mid-July, the U.S. slapped penalties on Russia's oil and gas producers as well as its main banks following the Ukraine crisis, which could squeeze their dollar funding over the long term.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in war-torn Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The culprit has not been confirmed, but the U.S. and other Western countries are accusing Russia of helping pro-Russia rebels by providing missiles and other military supplies.

"It is our basic stance that the Korean government would approach this issue with caution by taking into account various factors," a source said. "We are likely to mainly bring up the safety of civilian aircraft."

Harrell is also expected to explain recent developments on discussions over Iran's nuclear program, the source added.

Iran and six world powers -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany -- recently agreed to extend talks to discuss Iran's nuclear program for four months as they had failed to meet a pre-set deadline.

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