(LEAD) FM Cho discusses delayed fighter jet project with Indonesian counterpart

The top diplomats of South Korea and Indonesia have agreed to continue to work on the joint development of a fighter jet, a project in delay due to Jakarta's suspended payment for its share, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday. The discussion took place between Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, when they met one-on-one on the margins of the foreign ministers' meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, the ministry said in a release. Indonesia has agreed to shoulder about 20 percent of the 8.1 trillion won (US$6.07 billion) project, launched in 2015, to develop the KF-21 fighter jet, through 2026, in return for receiving one prototype and technology transfer, and producing 48 units in the country. Jakarta has been inconsistent in its commitment and had held off on the payments for nearly two years. It is estimated to have only paid about 278 billion won so far, with almost 1 trillion won in arrears. The two ministers "agreed to continue c ooperation so that the strategic cooperation projects between the two countries, including the joint fighter jet development and South Korea's participation in Indonesia's 'electric car ecosystem establishment' proceed smoothly and achieve results," the ministry said. They also agreed to work together on revising Indonesia's import quota and the bilateral double taxation avoidance agreement as part of efforts to offer a better business investment environment for South Korean companies. At the venue, Cho also held talks with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on the sidelines of the multilateral gathering and discussed bilateral ties, economic security cooperation and regional and global issues. Cho and Joly agreed to swiftly complete the action plans for the areas on which the two countries agreed to cooperate under the comprehensive strategic partnership in the follow-up to the 2022 leaders' summit. They also agreed to hold the "two plus two" meeting of the foreign and defense ministers and further m ove the partnership forward in defense and security. Cho attended a foreign ministerial session of MIKTA, an informal consultative body set up in 2013 to boost partnership among the middle-power nations: Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea and Australia. At the gathering, Cho stressed MIKTA's role in helping the international community to reinforce solidarity and overcome fissures, according to the ministry. Cho suggested holding leaders' summits and other high-level talks among the MIKTA members and working together to discover opportunities for new projects in such areas as food security and digital transformation. In Wednesday's session, the MIKTA ministers adopted a joint communique reaffirming their shared understanding on major international issues, including the war in Ukraine, the crisis in the Gaza Strip and North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening multilateralism and achieving the goals for sustainability, among others. Source: Yonhap New s Agency