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Ukraine given access to crashed plane's black boxes: minister

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Ukrainian experts have been given access to the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Friday, adding that they were receiving "full cooperation" from the Iranian authorities.

[KIEV] Ukrainian experts have been given access to the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Friday, adding that they were receiving "full cooperation" from the Iranian authorities.

Kiev sent around 50 experts to Iran to take part in the probe after the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

"Our team has now got access to the black boxes," Mr Prystaiko told a briefing.

The Ukrainian experts had also been given access to the plane's fragments and the crash site, Mr Prystaiko said.

The Ukrainian team plans to start analysing the recorders' content, he said.

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Mr Prystaiko also said that the Ukrainian team had been granted access to the recordings of the radio exchange between the pilots and traffic control.

"Conclusions - as soon as they are made - will be presented to the public," he said.

He said the plane's fragments had been scattered over a wide area including "certain settlements."

The plane crashed shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Mr Prystaiko addressed reporters after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and after US officials handed Kiev "important" information about the crash earlier Friday.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

Mr Zelensky said on Facebook that the possibility the plane had been shot down by a missile was not ruled out "but it has not yet been confirmed".

Speaking to reporters, Mr Prystaiko also stressed that all possibilities were under consideration.

"We are not rejecting any of the leads, all leads are being considered," he said.

"Our main task is to find the reasons of this tragedy in an absolutely just and unbiased manner," he said.

"To find who is guilty if someone is guilty.

"But of course if we prove that this plane has been shot down we will of course demand that the guilty be brought to justice but also compensation."

Ukraine's top diplomat refused to say what kind of information Kiev had received from the West. "This is secret information," he said.

He added that Ukraine wanted to see the creation of an "international coalition" that would oversee the crash probe.

AFP

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