Najib heading to Netherlands to ensure third part of deal is honoured

Najib heading to Netherlands to ensure third part of deal is honoured
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2014, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine.

PETALING JAYA - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be heading to the Netherlands on Wednesday to personally lead the effort to secure full access to the MH17 crash site.

The Prime Minister said full access to the site was necessary for the international team of investigators to complete its probe and finger the culprits responsible for the shooting down of Flight MH17 which killed 298 passengers and crew, including 43 Malaysians.

He will meet his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague to discuss how best to secure full access to the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on July 17.

"My priority now is to ensure the third part of the deal (with the Ukrainian rebels) is honoured and that international investigators are given full and secure access to the site," Najib said in a statement yesterday.

Najib had earlier worked behind the scenes to personally secure three breakthrough agreements from Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Borodai.

The agreements were to hand over the two MH17 black boxes to Malaysia, to facilitate the return of the victims' remains, and to allow the international investigation team full access to the crash site.

Since the agreement with the rebels was reached, three Malaysian investigators had visited the crash site on three separate occasions - on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - with each visit lasting about three hours.

Najib said investigators had observed the crash site and taken notes and photographs, but had not been able to visit the entire site given its large size.

"We believe that at least 30 investigators would be required to cover the entire site in addition to the teams from Malaysia and the Netherlands and a representative of the International Civil Aviation Organisation now visiting the area.

"Unfortunately, events on the ground - including ongoing fighting between Ukrainian and separatist forces - prevent such a large contingent of investigators being deployed," he added.

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