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S. Korea, Indonesia pushing for defense ministerial talks

In this file photo, taken on Jan. 22, 2021, and provided by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), workers assemble the first prototype of South Korea's indigenous fighter jet KF-X at its plant in the southeastern city of Sacheon. (Korea Aerospace Industries)
In this file photo, taken on Jan. 22, 2021, and provided by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), workers assemble the first prototype of South Korea's indigenous fighter jet KF-X at its plant in the southeastern city of Sacheon. (Korea Aerospace Industries)
South Korea is in talks with Indonesia to set up defense ministerial talks on the occasion of an upcoming rollout ceremony showcasing a prototype of South Korea's first indigenous fighter jet this month, the defense ministry said Monday.

Whether Indonesia, a partner for the KF-X project, will send senior officials to the rollout ceremony has been a focus of attention as it could be a sign the country remains committed to the joint project amid speculation it is seeking to quit the business.

Sources said Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is expected to attend the event, which will take place in the first couple of weeks of April, but the ministry has yet to confirm his attendance.

"A ministerial meeting will be possible if Prabowo visits South Korea. We are cooperating with all possibilities open," ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan told a regular press briefing. "As Minister Prabowo has also visited Japan, we are actively having discussions with Indonesia."

Indonesia had promised to shoulder 20 percent of the new fighter's 8.8 trillion-won ($7.9 billion) development cost, but it has stopped making payments after investing 227.2 billion won with around 600 billion won overdue.

Amid a media report Indonesia has asked to halve its contribution for the project, the arms procurement agency denied adjustment in the burden sharing ratio.

"The report that it has demanded the construction of local production facilities is also not true," Defense Acquisition Program Administration spokesman Col. Seo Yong-won said.

Asked to comment on the reported request of $5 billion worth of loans from South Korea, Seo said, "It is not a question to be answered by the arms procurement agency." (Yonhap)
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