Malaysia, Netherlands keep pressing for access to MH17 site

PUTRAJAYA - The leaders of Malaysia and the Netherlands vowed on Wednesday to keep pressing for access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and to bring to justice those responsible for downing the plane in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Najib Razak met with his visiting counterpart Mark Rutte in Malaysia to discuss the Dutch-led investigation into the July 17 disaster, which killed 193 citizens of the Netherlands.

Malaysia says 44 of its nationals also were among the 298 people aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight when it was brought down over strife-torn eastern Ukraine.

"Malaysia is committed to bring the perpetrators of MH17 to justice, and we must do everything possible to ensure that justice is done," Najib told reporters after their meeting.

"We both agreed that countries affected must work very closely together." Najib said the priority was to retrieve the aircraft's wreckage, an effort hampered by problems accessing the eastern Ukraine crash site, where clashes continue nearby between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Kiev and the West say the Boeing 777 was blown from the sky by separatist fighters using a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia.

Moscow strongly denies the charges and has suggested the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.

An initial report issued in September by Dutch investigators found MH17 was hit by multiple "high-energy" objects, apparently backing up the missile theory.

The report did not apportion blame.

The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused by the West of creating the conditions for the disaster through its support - which Moscow also denies - of the rebels, and obstructing the investigation.

Najib said "we have preliminary knowledge (of what took place) but it has to be backed by evidence." He did not elaborate.

There have been calls for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

But Rutte, who flew to Malaysia aboard MH19 - the re-numbered former MH17 - said culpability in the crash was still too unclear for that.

So far, 289 victims have been identified, with Dutch authorities saying the task of identifying the remainder had become more difficult due to the lack of forensic material.

Dutch forensic experts returned to the site on Friday, where they gathered more body parts despite continued clashes in the area.

Following his one-day Malaysia visit, Rutte will head to Australia for talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has criticised Russia over MH17 and vowed to confront Putin at the upcoming G20 summit in Brisbane over the 38 Australian citizens or residents who also perished in MH17.