Prosecutor General Orders to Summon Samsung Officials in Iran over Gift Ban

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Although the organisers later backtracked, it sparked anger in Iran, where Samsung has a major commercial presence, and its athletes refused to accept the phones until there was a full apology.

Iranian athletes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will receive Samsung mobile phones, organizers said, after Iran summoned South Korea's ambassador over reports its athletes would not get the gifts.

Then the International Olympic Committee said they would be provided for the Games, but the two countries' representatives would be asked to return them afterwards rather than keep them.

The order came as Samsung, in a statement on Friday, rejected its involvement in the process to ban Iranian athletes from receiving its smartphones, saying that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is responsible.

"Through their apology and admission of their mistake, we have reached our goal and the offence against the Islamic Republic's athletes and. nation has been rectified", the state news agency IRNA quoted Soltanifar as saying.

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North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from United States aggression.

Samsung billboards and flagship stores are seen all over Iran, and the South Korean company has sponsored many large-scale cultural events, including the current exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

That ruling prompted a series of stern responses from Iran, which sent four athletes - two alpine skiiers and two cross-country skiiers - to the Winter Games and has long welcomed Samsung's products within its borders, thanks to strong diplomatic and economic relations with South Korea.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif threatened to discontinue the use of his own Samsung device.

A Samsung spokeswoman stressed the electronics giant had nothing to do with the distribution of the handsets and all decisions were by the IOC. "These phones contain essential logistical and competition information for the athletes", an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said.

"The IOC has confirmed that the Iranian athletes are entitled to receive and keep the phones".

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