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Ukraine to push for downed plane’s black boxes during meeting with Iranian minister

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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 said.

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.

“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.

READ MORE: Iran plane crash — What is the Montreal Convention, and how will victims be compensated?

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he expressed to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, during a rare in-person meeting on Friday that Canada and the international working group want the black boxes to be sent to Europe.

“What I did say to the Iranian foreign minister is that the wish of Canada, the wish of the coordination group would be that the black box be sent quickly either to Ukraine or to France,” he said.

He added though, that he has now followed up in writing, after having heard reports that Iran may be backtracking on its commitment.

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

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