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Canada, allies push Iran to co-operate on Ukraine plane's black boxes

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Phillipe Champagne speaks to media prior to the start of the Liberal Cabinet Retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Phillipe Champagne speaks to media prior to the start of the Liberal Cabinet Retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

OTTAWA - Canada and its allies are pushing Iran to move the black boxes from the Ukrainian jetliner it shot down to a facility that can quickly download its crucial flight data.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says the request emerged from his conference call on Monday with counterparts from Britain, Sweden, Afghanistan and Ukraine, all of which lost citizens in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752.

It was the first follow-up conversation of the so-called International Co-ordination and Response Group for victims of PS752 since Champagne hosted its inaugural meeting in London last week.

Canada pushed to form the group to add weight and unity to the international effort to ensure Iran's co-operation after its Revolutionary Guard shot down the passenger plane earlier this month, killing all 176 aboard.

A summary of Champagne's call with representatives from the response group says Iran is co-operating with foreign experts in the investigation, but also emphasizes the need for Iran to allow a thorough and credible international investigation.

"Members of the ICRG call on Iran to move the black boxes to a facility with all of the technology and expertise required to quickly and reliably download and analyze the data without delay," the summary says.

"Iran has indicated it is willing to do so."

On Sunday, Champagne wrote to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif — two days after they met face to face in Oman — to stress Canada's view that the black boxes should be sent quickly for analysis by experts in either France or Ukraine.

A preliminary report released Monday by Iran's Civil Aviation Organization said it needs technical assistance from France and the United States to analyze the data.

The black boxes sustained physical damage, but their memory is intact after the flight was hit by two missiles within three minutes of taking off from Tehran's airport on Jan. 8, the report says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.

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