Iran Issues More Visas to Canada Team Investigating Plane Crash

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. REUTERS./ FILE PHOTO

OTTAWA, Jan 12  – Iran has issued eight more visas to a team of Canadian officials following a fatal plane crash near Tehran and most members of the group should be in Tehran on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Sunday.

Champagne said on Twitter that three officials from the rapid deployment team had flown to Iran on Saturday to set up a base of operations and a further eight would travel on Monday. The last member will arrive in Ankara on Monday.

“We expect the (team) to be fully in place to do their important work by Jan 14,” Champagne said.

Iran has admitted that its military mistakenly shot down the plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, at a time when Tehran feared U.S. air strikes. Many on board the Ukraine International Airlines plane were Iranians with dual citizenship, while 57 were holders of Canadian passports.

Canada says it wants to take part in the crash investigation and help the families of the Canadians who died. The team includes consular officials and two members of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

The TSB said later it would deploy a second team of investigators who specialize in aircraft recorder download and analysis “once we confirm where and when this activity will take place.” It did not give more details.

Canada does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke on Saturday to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Trudeau told reporters that Rouhani had committed to working with Canadian investigators.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)