KIEV: Ukraine said Friday Iran was ready to hand over the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian passenger plane downed by an Iranian missile.
The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran last Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens.
Ukraine's foreign minister said Iran would grant a team of investigators from Iran and Canada as the countries that have lost the most nationals access to the recorders.
“After that, the Iranian side is ready to separately transfer the black boxes to Ukraine,” Vadym Prystaiko told lawmakers during a parliamentary session.
“This is consistent with international standards, although we still demand that they be given to us immediately to ensure the independence and objectivity of the investigation,” Prystaiko said.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday urged Iran to send the flight and cockpit data recorders from the crashed jet to France for analysis and said the first remains of victims should soon arrive back in Canada.
"Iran does not have the level of technical expertise and mostly the equipment necessary to be able to analyze these damaged black boxes quickly," Trudeau said.
He told a news conference in Ottawa that France was one of the few countries with the ability to read the plane's so-called black boxes, which he said were badly damaged.
“The right place to send those black boxes to get proper information from them and in a rapid way" is France, he said, adding "that is what we're encouraging the Iranian authorities to agree to."
Trudeau also said his government will give Canadian $25,000 ($19,122) to families of each of the 57 citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada who perished in the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in Iran last week.
He added he still expects Iran to compensate the families but said they need help now for funerals, travel to Iran and bills. He said any money Iran provides at a later date will go straight to the families and will not be reimbursed to the Canadian government.
“I want to be clear, we expect Iran to compensate these families," Trudeau said. “But I have met them. They can't wait weeks. They need support now."
After initial denials, Iran admitted it has shot down the plane “unintentionally” while on high alert after firing missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani by a US strike.
Prystaiko told CNN on Wednesday that Kiev has “good cooperation” with Tehran on the crash probe, but lacked “access to the information stored in the black boxes.”
“We just want to know that nobody will be tampering with the recordings themselves,” he said.
Prystaiko said an Iranian official will visit Kiev next week “to apologize officially and provide explanations.”
On Thursday, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain issued a five-point plan for cooperation with Iran during the investigation, calling for “full and unhindered access” for foreign officials.