Ukraine Welcomes ‘Constructive’ First Talks With Iran on Downing of Airliner

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets

KYIV, July 31  – Ukraine said on Friday that its first round of talks with Iran about the downing of a Ukrainian airliner shortly after takeoff in Tehran in January had been constructive, and that it was determined “to bring Iran to justice”.

All 176 people on board – including 57 Canadians – were killed when Iranian forces struck the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 jet. Iran said they mistook the passenger plane for a missile at a time of high tensions with the United States.

“The talks ended late last night. The talks lasted 11 hours. In general, they were constructive,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video briefing after meeting with an Iranian delegation.

Kuleba said the sides had agreed the terms of next round of talks and that Kyiv would not allow anyone to drag out the negotiations.

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Later on Friday, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said the next round was set for October.

“Of course, if the negotiations with Iran are unsuccessful, then we will go to international courts and I have absolutely no doubt that we will bring Iran to justice. But this is plan B,” Kuleba said.

“And plan A is negotiations with Iran and the solution of all these issues and the payment of compensation. We saw Iran was disposed to a serious and substantive conversation,” he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in February that Ukraine was not satisfied with the size of compensation Iran had offered to families of Ukrainians killed in the incident and Kuleba said on Thursday that Ukraine would make every effort to maximise compensations.

An international team has started examining the black box flight recorders from the plane. A senior Ukrainian diplomat said last week that the transcript from the black box showed there had been illegal interference with the plane.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Writing by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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