U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter refused Thursday to accept South Korea's request for the transfer of key American technologies necessary for Seoul's "KF-X" indigenous jet fighter development project, officials said.
Carter stated the position when South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo asked him to reconsider the decision to reject the technology transfer during a meeting at the Pentagon, the South's Defense Ministry said in a statement. Han has been in Washington to accompany President Park Geun-hye on an official visit.
Carter said, however, that he would study ways of technological cooperation, the statement said. The two ministers also agreed to establish a consultative forum to discuss ways to increase cooperation in defense technology, including the KF-X project, it said.
The Korean Fighter Experimental project, under which South Korea is to produce 120 combat jets, hit a snag after the U.S. Department of State in April refused to grant permission for U.S.-based Lockheed Martin's export of four out of the 25 fighter jet technologies it has promised Seoul.
The two ministers also exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, such as August's military standoff between the two Koreas and the military parade held earlier this month to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling Workers' Party, Seoul's statement said.
They also discussed the possibility of additional North Korean provocations.
The two sides agreed to continue with the conditions-based transfer of the wartime operational control of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul and bolster cooperation in space, cyberspace and the defense industry, the statement said.
The ministers also made clear that the two countries will continue to maintain a solid combined defense posture and deal strongly with North Korean provocations, it said.
The Pentagon also said in a statement that Carter and Han agreed to "establish an interagency working group to enhance cooperation on defense technology issues," but the statement made no mention of the technology transfer for the fighter jet project.
The two sides also "reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance as the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Asia-Pacific region and strongly reassured both leaders of the United States' ironclad commitment to the defense of the ROK," it said.
"The leaders discussed areas of mutual concern in the Asia-Pacific, including the challenges posed by North Korea, and the importance of continued alliance cooperation and coordination to deter and, if necessary, defend against and defeat North Korean threats," it added. (Yonhap)