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I went through this, on your boyfriend's side, not too long ago. It was the greatest emotional pain of my life thus far, and cutting off all contact totally was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. It was so hard. My ex wanted to remain friends too, beacuse I was 'important' to him. Ha! I was his first girlfriend, we were supposed to get married, etc., and although he wasn't my first boyfriend, he was my first true love; I would have done anything for him. In the end, him breaking up with me was a giant shock- I never saw it coming, I was in denial for months afterward, and although I had suspicions of this other girl, I didnt want to believe it, before or after the split. Truth was, he left me for her and lied about it the whole time.
Now I dont know what your situation is about, and it doesnt sound like that is the case here. In my opinion, based on personal experience, I think what your boyfriend is saying is extremely true, and I know exaclty how he feels. It is impossible to 'stay friends' with someone that you want to be more than friends with, and have been for so long. Especially when you know the other person doesnt see you in that way anymore. There really is no pain deeper than that, (at least from what Ive experienced lately), and to keep getting reminded of that by remaining in contact just twists the knife deeper. It would give him false hope. I think that (and I mean this is the nicest way), you can't have your cake and eat it too. You dont want to be with him, you've hurt him, and while Im sure you didnt mean to, you owe it to him to allow him to heal and get past this as easily as he can. The fact that you stayed with him for 6 months when you knew you didnt want to be with him is pretty unfair in itself, and so is hurting him but then wanting him to stick around (again, not trying to be harsh here). As much as it might be hard to imagine not having him in your life anymore, you dont want to be with him, and you have to deal with the consequences of that. What he needs to do for himself now is to get over you. And, in my experiences again, the only way to start doing that is to cut off all contact. The dumpee has no choice but to get over the other person that way, and thats what he has to do here. It wasnt his choice, it was yours, so I think you have to let him handle this in the way he chooses to, and allow him to grieve as easily and as painlessly as possible. I hope I dont sound too bitter here with what I went through (because I totally am!), I just know what your ex-boyfriend is going through, and I think it is best to honor his wishes now. Maybe in time, if he gets over you, you can be friends again. Just not right now.
Im going to disagree with what others have said, and agree with Avon55 here. I was on your boyfriend's end not too long ago, and I never saw the break-up coming. I was in ultimate shock and denial for...well, about a month to be honest. I contacted him maybe 2 or 3 times in that month, until I cut him out for good because it was too painful. But I remember, the first day, first week, and 2 weeks later when I called him, he would not respond to anything. It made it 10X worse for me. I felt like i was dumped and left to recover with no explanation or care. If my ex would have at least showed that he had an ounce of feeling by recognizing my contact, it would have made things a lot less painful. He didnt have to 'lead me on', but just the fact that it seemed like he was taking the easy way out and forgoing all repercussions involved in hurting and betraying me like he did, hurt like nothing else Ive experienced.
So Im going to suggest what Avon55 said. Respond, but say that you don't want to lead him on and that you are sorry he is hurting so much and you never wanted to hurt him. Say that you do not think it is good to keep in contact because you don't think you are going to change your mind (or, better yet, you KNOW you aren't changing your mind) and that you think it is best to cut off contact for awhile, until things are less emotional, and then maybe you can be friends.
It wasn't until my ex actually outright said, I am not comign back, that I was done. I cut him out of my life, and it was the best thing I could have done. He is contacting you because he hurts like hell and he still harbors hope. Not responding is twisting the knife in deeper because it gives the impression the other person doesnt give a f***, and that is very hard to handle after being dumped, but just make sure you don't tell him anything that will lead him on. Suggest no contact from that point on.

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