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article imageUkraine presses Iran to hand over downed jet's black boxes

By AFP     Jan 20, 2020 in World

Ukraine's president on Monday urged Tehran to hand over the black box flight recorders of a passenger plane mistakenly shot down by Iranian forces during a spike in tensions with Washington.

President Volodymyr Zelensky met Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami in Kiev after Tehran suggested it would keep the black boxes.

Zelensky told the minister "Ukraine has the technical capacity and experienced specialists" to read the information on the Boeing flight recorders, the presidency said in a statement.

Iranian "representatives" would shortly travel to Ukraine "to acquaint themselves with those technical capacities.

"The parties agreed that all debris from the aircraft... must be returned to Ukraine," the statement said, adding that the issue of compensation for families of the dead had been raised.

Zelensky noted that Tehran had "fully cooperated" and kept "most" of the promises made after the crash.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko had earlier said the minister had come to Kiev to "officially apologise" after Iran admitted that it mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian jet.

"We hope that we would be able... to discuss practical issues including the return of the black boxes," Prystaiko said.

"On the part of Iran, this will be proof of the readiness for open dialogue."

The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens.

The disaster happened shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Tehran admitted several days later it had accidentally shot down the plane.

On Friday, Prystaiko said Tehran was "ready" to hand over the flight recorders, but a senior official later announced that Iran intended to keep the black boxes "for now".

Canada on Sunday repeated its request that Iran quickly hand over the black boxes to France or Ukraine.

Last week, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain issued a five-point plan for cooperation with Iran during the investigation, calling for "full and unhindered access" for foreign officials.

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