MH17 crash: Ukrainian rebels have so far honoured two of three conditions

PUTRAJAYA - There were risks involved in pursuing the agreement with Ukraine's rebel leaders but Malaysia had an obligation to the families of the victims, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister said the Government was determined to secure the return of the remains and black boxes.

"After meeting the families, I felt that we owed it to them to act. These were extraordinary circumstances which called for extraordinary measures.

"There were risks involved in pursuing this agreement. So far, the agreement has been honoured," he said in a statement yesterday.

Najib said he was pleased to confirm that the first two of the three conditions agreed with Ukrainian rebel leaders had been met.

The train carrying the victims' remains had arrived in Kharkiv and the Malaysian team had custody of the black boxes, he said, adding that the boxes appeared to be in good condition.

"They will be held securely in Malaysian custody while the international investigation team is being formalised.

"At that time, we will pass the black boxes to the international investigation team for further analysis," he said.

The Prime Minister said he was relieved to secure the breakthrough which had allowed things to move forward.

"I would like to thank the Malaysian team on the ground that has worked hard to support this operation.

"Thanks to their efforts, we are closer to finding out what happened to the aircraft and fulfilling our shared responsibility to those who lost their lives," he said.

At midnight on Monday, Najib announced that he had reached an agreement with Alexander Borodai, who is in command of the region where the ill-fated flight was shot down, to bring an end to the stand-off over the site.

The deal stipulated the return of the passengers' remains, the handover of the black boxes and full access to the crash site for investigations to begin.

In The Hague, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the first bodies from the MH17 crash would be flown to Eindhoven today.

However, he said their identification could take weeks or months.

"As soon as a victim is identified, first and foremost the family will be informed and no one else,'' Rutte said, confirming that all the bodies would be brought to the Netherlands and then flown on to their respective countries.