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Top diplomats of S. Korea, Indonesia agree on close cooperation for joint fighter project

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (L, center) holds talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno L.P. Marsudi, in Jakarta on Friday, in this photo provided by the foreign ministry. (Yonhap)
Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (L, center) holds talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno L.P. Marsudi, in Jakarta on Friday, in this photo provided by the foreign ministry. (Yonhap)

The top diplomats of South Korea and Indonesia agreed Friday to closely cooperate to smoothly proceed with joint fighter jet development and other mutually beneficial projects, the foreign ministry said.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno L.P. Marsudi, held talks to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues. Indonesia was the last leg of his five-day trip to Southeast Asia that also included visits to Vietnam and Singapore.

"The ministers assessed outcomes of cooperation that the two countries have achieved in the defense industry sector, which symbolizes their strategic trust," the ministry said in a press release.

"Especially, the ministers agreed to closely cooperate to make sure that mutually beneficial, substantive cooperation projects like the KF-21/IF-X project will proceed smoothly," it added.

Under a bilateral arrangement for the KF-21/IF-X project, Indonesia had promised to shoulder 20 percent of the cost for the development of fighters. But it stopped making payments after investing 227.2 billion won ($201 million).

The two ministers also agreed to expand cooperation in the areas of vaccine procurement and public health to overcome the new coronavirus. To that end, Chung said that Seoul plans to offer Indonesia $4 million worth of items, including COVID-19 diagnostic kits, this year.

Chung pledged to continue close exchanges with Indonesia, calling the country a "core" partner of Seoul's New Southern Policy aimed at strengthening ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Chung also paid a courtesy call on President Joko Widodo and stressed that the two countries' relations have been at their best in recent years.

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