Iran's Rohani Apologizes to Canada and Ukraine Over Downed Jet

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau says Iran must take full responsibility and be held accountable for the killing of 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians

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Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada place a candle on Parliament Hill during vigil for the victims who were killed in a plane crash in Iran, January 9, 2020.
Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada place a candle on Parliament Hill during vigil for the victims who were killed in a plane crash in Iran, January 9, 2020.Credit: AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rohani held telephone conversations with his Canadian and Ukrainian couterparts Saturday, apologizing for the downing of the Ukranian passenger plane and promising further investigation, the state news agency IRNA reported.

"Iran welcomes any international cooperation in the framework of international regulations to shed more light on the incident," Rohani said, promising further investigation into the crash that Tehran said was caused by its air defences "unintentionally".

Shortly after, Candaian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Iran must take full responsibility and be held accountable for the killing of 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians. Iran and Canada cut diplomatic ties in 2012.

"What Iran has admitted to is very serious. Shooting down a civilian aircraft is horrific. Iran must take full responsibility," Trudeau told reporters in a news conference.

"Canada will not rest until we get the accountability, justice, and closure that the families deserve," he said.

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had agreed with Rohani on the beginning of joint work on decoding the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane.

He also urged Ukraine's international partners to be united and persistent until the investigation was complete, adding that the findings by Ukrainian experts in Iran meant that the truth about the crash could not be concealed.

"[Rohani] apologized on behalf of the Iranian side for the tragedy that took 176 lives," a statement from Zelensky's office read. "The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran fully acknowledges that the tragedy was caused by the erroneous actions of the military of this state."

During the call, Rowhani assured Zelensky that those involved in the incident would be held accountable, and Zelensky stressed the need to identify and return the bodies of Ukrainian citizens to their homeland as soon as possible.

"It is extremely important for us to return the bodies of the deceased to Ukraine next week - by January 19 - so that their relatives can bid a final farewell," Zelensky said, according to the statement.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said that Ukraine would pay 200,000 hryvnia ($8,350) each to the families of those who died in the crash.

He said Ukraine International Airlines would make payments to the families of the crew members who died in the crash. The airline's spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Honcharuk also said Ukrainian diplomats were working on how to receive compensation from the Iranian authorities.

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