Korea, Indonesia agree to move forward with KF-21 fighter plan
Korea and Indonesia agreed on Friday to cooperate closely to proceed smoothly with their joint project to develop KF-21 fighter jets, during a visit to Jakarta by Seoul’s top diplomat.
Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong met in Jakarta with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, emphasizing cooperation in defense and health sectors and investing in a green economy in particular.
The two sides in particular “have agreed to cooperate closely to ensure that substantive and mutually beneficial cooperation projects like the KF-21 / IF-X project run smoothly,” Seoul Foreign Ministry said. in a statement, noting that such bilateral defense cooperation is “symbolic of the special strategic partnership relationship between Korea and Indonesia.”
Indonesia is involved in the development of the aircraft, dubbed the Korea Fighter Experimental (KF-X) project, having pledged to finance 20% of its development cost of 8.8 trillion won (7.8 trillion won). billions of dollars). The project is called the IF-X program in Indonesia. The Southeast Asian country will eventually receive 50 jets out of a total of 170.
However, Indonesia stopped making payments after investing around 227.2 billion won, which led to speculation about the Southeast Asian country’s continued commitment to the project.
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto visited Korea in April to see manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) officially unveil the prototype of the locally developed fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, alongside President Moon Jae-in.
If the KF-21 were successful in its test flights, Korea would become the eighth country in the world to develop a supersonic fighter jet. The first test flight is expected to take place next year.
Korea is also planning to donate $ 4 million worth of items, including Covid-19 diagnostic kits, to Indonesia this year, Chung said.
Chung described Indonesia as a “core” partner in the Moon administration’s new southern policy aimed at strengthening economic ties with the Asean countries.
Later that day, Chung paid a courtesy visit to Indonesian President Joko Widodo at his presidential palace and said relations between the two countries were at their “best” in recent years and “based on trust and friendship. deep ”, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ministry.
President Moon Jae-in visited Indonesia in November 2017.
Chung also told Widodo that the progress of cooperation between the two countries in the defense sector is “based on a deep trust between the two countries,” stressing that he hopes for mutually beneficial projects such as the development program. KF-21 fighter jets and the Korean shipbuilder. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s plan to build a second submarine for the Indonesian Navy will be “successfully implemented”.
Korea is one of “Indonesia’s most important relations,” Widodo told Chung, who added, “I am very happy with Korea’s investment, which I think would be of benefit to both. country ”.
He noted that Indonesia has made efforts to improve its investment environment, including through the passage of the Omnibus Law last November, which relaxed some restrictions on foreign investment.
Widodo in particular expressed satisfaction with Korea’s investment in the electric vehicle (EV) industry in Indonesia. He also noted that Korea has also invested in the country’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
Emphasizing the importance that Indonesia places on green economy investment cooperation, he said, “In particular, I highly appreciate the expansion of investment by Korean companies to create an ecosystem of electric vehicles. .
Chung in turn called on the Indonesian government to “continue to show interest and support the activities of Korean companies that have entered the country,” especially in the sectors of electric vehicle and battery production.
Indonesia aims to become carbon neutral by 2060 and plans to sell only electric vehicles for all new cars from 2050.
Hyundai Motor and LG Energy Solution are considering a joint venture to build Southeast Asia’s first electric vehicle battery plant in Indonesia. Hyundai Motor is building a finished car manufacturing plant in Bekasi, near Jakarta.
Indonesia holds about a quarter of the world’s resources of nickel, an important component for producing lithium-ion batteries, and aims to become a global center for the production of batteries for electric vehicles.
Chung concluded the final leg of a five-day tour of three Southeast Asian countries on Friday that also took him to Vietnam and Singapore earlier in the week.
In Vietnam last Wednesday, Chung spoke with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son and discussed the difficulties facing Korean businessmen due to Covid-19 restrictions and a four-week quarantine period.
Korea has said it will provide Vietnam with $ 2.5 million of quarantine items this year to support its Covid-19 prevention efforts.
Chung paid courtesy visits to Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
On Thursday, Chung met his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan and agreed to work on resuming ‘expedited’ entry systems for essential business travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic and to expand trade between peoples, Seoul Foreign Ministry said.
This included discussions on travel bubbles and mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, taking into account the vaccination rates of the two countries.
The fast-track program for essential business travel was launched last September but suspended in February.
The Korean Foreign Ministry said the two sides appreciated the active participation of Korean companies in Singapore’s flagship infrastructure projects amid the pandemic and “agreed to further strengthen cooperation in future industries, such as technology. finance and start-ups “.
Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two ministers discussed ways to expand cooperation in new and emerging areas, such as fintech and the digital economy. He said they also agreed on the importance of restoring travel between countries in a “gradual and safe” manner.
BY SARAH KIM [[email protected]]