German-Franco fighter jet stalemate can be solved, Berlin says

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FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a virtual news conference in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - An impasse over the development of a Franco-German fighter jet can be overcome, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.

Talks between defence officials from France, Germany and Spain, as well as Dassault, Airbus and Indra, failed to bring a break-through on Wednesday.

But Maas believes the problems can be solved. The countries would continue to try and find a solution, he told a live stream on the sidelines of a visit to Paris.

"The Franco-German defence cooperation is an important part of our joint security policy," he said.

Costing more than 100 billion euros ($120.4 billion), the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) brings together Germany, France and Spain at the core of deepening European Union defence cooperation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron kicked off the ambitious venture in 2017, when the EU was rattled by Britain's decision to leave the bloc and deeply divided over other issues such as the migrant crisis.

But it has become mired in mistrust and differing visions between Berlin and Paris as well as corporate infighting over distribution of work and security, industry sources say.

Merkel and Macron failed to settle the row at the beginning of February, leaving open when the next tranche of project funds of at least 5 billion euros can be released.

A French armed forces ministry spokesman said the goal remained to sign a deal by the end of the German parliamentary session in June.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin, Tangi Salaün and Tim Hepher in Paris, editing by Emma Thomasson and Angus MacSwan)