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January 20, 2020 8:16 am

Ukraine to Press for Plane Crash Black Boxes as Iran Minister Visits

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Debris of a plane belonging to Ukraine International Airlines that crashed after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport is seen on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran, Jan. 8, 2020. Photo: Nazanin Tabatabaee / WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters.

Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.

Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.

“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko stated.

Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.

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“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?”

Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.

Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.

The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the US over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.

The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the US and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.

A ceremony was held at Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 Ukrainian citizens, including nine flight crew members, arrived home for burial.

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