Malaysian prime minister to travel to Netherlands
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will travel to the Netherlands on Wednesday to discuss the downed Malaysia Airlines jet with his Dutch counterpart.
Najib said in a statement Saturday that he and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will discuss securing full access to the crash site and whether Malaysian pathologists can be of assistance in “expediting the process of identifying the human remains.”
There were 193 Dutch and 43 Malaysians on Flight 17 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. The plane crashed in territory controlled by pro-Russia rebels, who have been blamed by many in the international community for shooting it down.
Najib reached an agreement with rebel leader Alexander Borodai on Monday to secure the handing over of the plane’s black boxes and the remains of the victims, as well as to ensure safe access to the crash site.
“The first two conditions have been met,” Najib said. “My priority now is to ensure the third part of the deal is honored, and that international investigators are given full and secure access to the site. This will require the cooperation of those in control of the crash site and the Ukrainian armed forces.”
A team of three Malaysian investigators has visited the crash site three times so far, according to the statement.
Joined by three Dutch investigators and one from the International Civil Aviation Organization, they managed to observe some of the crash site, and take notes and photographs. “However, given its large size, they have been unable to visit the entire crash site,” the statement said.
The Malaysian team believes at least more 30 investigators are needed to cover the entire site. “Unfortunately, events on the ground — including ongoing fighting between Ukrainian and separatist forces — prevent such a large contingent of investigators being deployed,” the statement said.