KIEV, UKRAINE (AFP) — US officials have given Kiev “important” information about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday after phone talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
All 176 people on board died when a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.
Zelensky said on Facebook that the possibility the plane had been shot down by a missile was not ruled out “but it has not yet been confirmed.”
He asked for Ukraine to be given all the information needed to conduct a thorough investigation.
“Our goal is to establish the undeniable truth,” he said. “The value of human life is above all political motives.”
In a phone call with Pompeo, he thanked Washington for its support.
“We are grateful for the valuable support of the United States in investigating the causes of the crash,” Zelensky told Pompeo, according to a statement released by his office.
He said he met chargée d’affaires Kristina Kvien and received important information which could help in the investigation.”
Zelensky and Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko also met with other US officials including Kvien, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine.
Zelensky’s office also said the Ukrainian leader and Pompeo discussed ways to normalise the situation in the Middle East.
Pompeo expressed his “deepest condolences for the lives lost” in the crash.
“We stand with #Ukraine and are ready to offer our support and assistance in the ongoing investigation,” he said on Twitter.
Speaking on Fox News on Thursday, Pompeo had urged Iran to cooperate in the probe.
“I hope that the Iranians will cooperate with it completely,” he said.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of it, and it’s important that we get to the bottom of it quickly.”
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said Thursday that investigators were pursuing several leads, including a strike with a surface-to-air missile such as a Russian-made Tor, a collision with a drone, engine failure or a terror attack.
Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigates aircraft incidents, said Friday it was ready to assist in the probe but that Iran had not asked Moscow for help.
Zelensky’s office said Pompeo, who was previously expected in Kiev on January 3, will travel to the ex-Soviet country at the end of the month.
© Agence France-Presse