US officials have provided Ukraine with "important data" on the deadly crash of the Ukrainian passenger jet outside Tehran, Kyiv said. The plane went down as Iranians were firing missiles against US targets in Iraq.
The US was willing to help Ukraine investigate the fall of the passenger jet which killed 176 people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday after talking to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"We are grateful for the valuable support of the US in investigating the reasons for the disaster," Zelenskiy said in a statement.
The Ukrainian president also said that he had received "important information" from Washington representative Christina Quinn, but did not provide details.
Separately, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the US side delivered "important data which will be processed by our experts."
Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told a press conference that the Canadian government had created an emergency task force to help the families of crash victims.
Champagne also said that some of debris from the crashed plane has been moved to a hangar.
US and Canadian investigators say it is uncertain how much access they will get to evidence that could prove whether Iran shot down the passenger jet. Experts also fear that the investigation might already be compromised by the removal of evidence from the crash site.
Zelenskiy wants West to share evidence
Western governments believe the passenger jet was shot down by an Iranian missile as Tehran forces were targeting US facilities in Iraq. Iran has denied wrongdoing.
Earlier on Friday, Zelenskiy said that the version of "a missile hitting the plane was not ruled out, but it has not been confirmed yet."
He then called on governments to share data to help uncover answers about the crash of a Boeing 737 that killed 176 people from seven countries.
"Given the recent statements by the leaders of the states in the media, we call on all international partners — notably the governments of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom — to submit data and evidence concerning the disaster to the commission which investigates the causes," Zelenskiy said.
Germany calls for 'greatest possible transparency'
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas echoed Zelenskiy's calls for cooperation on Friday.
Speaking with German broadcaster n-tv, the foreign minister said that if investigations were to reveal that a missile caused the crash, "then one is honestly left lost for words."
He called for "the greatest possible transparency" in the investigations, adding that Iran inviting the US to help in investigation is "a very important signal."
"I think all sides have recognized that the time has passed now for military escalation, that it makes sense to talk to each other," he said.
Iran has indeed shown itself willing to cooperate with international investigators.
Farhad Parvaresh, the country's representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization, said Iran was committed to a transparent investigation and is prepared to provide visas for accredited investigators.
The US National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Thursday that it will participate in the probe, responding to an invitation from Iran.
The United Nations' aviation law gives the accident-investigating agency the right to participate in any investigation involving jets designed and built in the US.
Tehran has also invited US plane manufacturer Boeing to take part. The country had previously said it would not allow Boeing to participate, which would have flouted international norms on plane crash probes.
Iranian state media said Friday that it had invited both Boeing and Ukraine to take part in investigations.
Shot down by mistake?
Canada, which lost 57 citizens in the crash, has also assigned an investigator to the case. Invitations have been extended to Sweden and Afghanistan as well. France, which produced the plane's engines, may also send investigators.
The US, the UK and Canada have said there is evidence that Iran shot down the plane, possibly by mistake. On Friday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called for a "transparent and thorough" investigation.
'I will not go into details about our intelligence but what I can say is we have no reason to not believe the reports we have seen from different NATO allied capitals," Stoltenberg said.
A video posted by investigative group Bellingcat, which specializes in analyzing publicly available information, purported to show a mid-air explosion and a possible location from which a missile may have been fired.
Bellingcat senior investigator Nick Waters told DW that the video shows a midair explosion occurring along the plane's flight path. The investigative groups believes it also shows a missile with "potentially an object, possibly a plane, flying out of it."
Waters said that while he cannot rule out another explanation, evidence is currently in favor of the missile narrative.
"Currently, the information that we have that was available indicates that it was more likely that it was potentially shot down," he said.
shs,dj,kp/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)