Australian PM hits out at 'shambolic' MH17 crash site

Australian PM hits out at 'shambolic' MH17 crash site

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Monday hit out at the "shambolic" situation at the MH17 crash site as he demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin back up assurances with action.

Abbott and Putin spoke by telephone overnight in their first conversation since the Malaysia Airlines plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, apparently shot down by pro-Russian rebels with a surface-to-air missile.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, British counterpart David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande also piled pressure on Putin over the weekend in phone calls.

While Abbott would not divulge details of what was discussed, he said the onus was now on Moscow to act, using its influence with pro-Russian separatists to ensure experts can access the site of the crash.

"To President Putin's credit he did say all the right things. I want to stress what he said was fine," Abbott told a press conference.

"The challenge now is to hold the president to his word. That is certainly my intention, and it should be the intention of the family of nations to hold the president to his word." Rutte talked with Putin on Sunday, with the Russian leader promising to help retrieve bodies and black boxes, a spokeswoman for Dutch government press service RVD told AFP.

Abbott has been particularly vocal among world leaders in his outrage at Russia's perceived lack of cooperation in the investigation into the disaster.

He has branded the plane's downing "a crime", and accused Moscow of trying to wash its hands of the tragedy while failing to properly secure the crash site.

Moscow denies any involvement in the disaster.

Twenty-eight Australian nationals and nine residents were among the 298 people from a dozen countries on board who died.

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