MH17: Malaysia's Defence Minister off to Ukraine to expedite crash site access

MH17: Malaysia's Defence Minister off to Ukraine to expedite crash site access

PETALING JAYA - Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein will head to Ukraine this weekend in an effort to expedite Malaysian's re-entry into the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine. He said the ministry's secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Ahmad is expected to go tonight but he would soon travel to Kiev following a Cabinet's decision.

"The Prime Minister has asked me to go to Kiev to secure agreements with all parties involved to allow our investigation team to return to crash site.

"The Cabinet has agreed that immediate action needs to be taken by Malaysia in this matter," he told a press conference after sending off the first batch of 213 MALBATT squad bound for Lebanon as part of the United Nations peace mission on Thursday.

He explained that he would travel to Kiev this weekend along with Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and Armed Forces Chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin.

"My main mission is to ensure safe passage to the crash site so that the investigators can resume their work in finding the missing MH17 victims.

"We hope that Ukrainian Government and the separatists can allow this request," he said.

Hishammuddin said he would also go to Russia and the Netherlands to coordinate and discuss on the search operation and bringing the culprits responsible for shooting down MH17 to justice.

"The situation in eastern Ukraine is still tense but it has never broken our determination to return to the crash site," he said.

AFP reported that Dutch air crash investigators have announced that they will release a preliminary report next Tuesday into what brought down flight MH17 over east Ukraine, killing 298 passengers.

"The preliminary report will present factual information based on sources available to the Dutch Safety Board (OVV)," investigators said in a statement.

The highly-anticipated first report will be released on the OVV's website at 10:00 am (0800 GMT) but there will be "no press conference," it said.

"In the months to come further investigation is needed before the final report is written," added the OVV, which earlier said it hoped to have a final report "within a year."

The Netherlands is in charge of probing the crash of the Malaysia airlines Boeing 777 which exploded over strife-torn Ukraine on July 17, killing all on board, including 193 Dutch citizens.

The West has blamed Russian-backed separatists for shooting down MH17, while Moscow blames Kiev.

Air crash investigators returned to The Hague from Ukraine in early August without being able to visit the crash site, due to the deteriorating security situation in the country's volatile east.

Ukranian air crash experts - who now form part of the OVV team - did however visit the scene shortly after the crash.


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