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Iran asks countries of plane crash victims not to make it 'political'

An Iranian walks over US and UK flags at a memorial for crash victims [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 January, 2020

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'We request all sides not to make human issues, particularly this tragic accident, into an excuse for political gestures,' said Iran's foreign ministry following calls for compensation for the victims.
The nations involved in the Ukrainian airliner crash in Iran should avoid turning it into a political issue, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

"We request all sides not to make human issues, particularly this tragic accident, into an excuse for political gestures," Abbas Mousavi said, quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Five countries whose citizens died when Iran shot down the airliner last week made an impassioned plea for compensation for the victims on Thursday at a press conference in London. 

"Families want answers, the international community wants answers, the world is waiting for answers and we will not rest until we get them," said Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Comment: Is this Iran's 'Chernobyl moment'?

Officials from Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Britain alongside Canada said that the world was watching for Iran's response. They also called for Iran to hold a "thorough, independent and transparent international investigation open to grieving nations".

Mousavi said Iran had cooperated "beyond expectations" with the countries whose citizens died in the disaster, according to ISNA.

Mousavi added that it was "strange" Canada's foreign ministry had demanded consular access in relation to the crash, because almost all of the crash victims have been identified.

After several days of denial, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards admitted accidentally shooting down the Boeing jet with an anti-aircraft missile, killing all of its 176 passengers.

The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens, many of whom were dual Iranian nationals. 

President Hassan Rouhani called the crash an "unforgivable mistake", while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Friday it was a "bitter" tragedy, but should not overshadow the "sacrifice" of Qasem Soleimani, the country's top commander killed in a US drone strike on 3 January.

The crash and the Iranian government's response has sparked mass popular protests in Iran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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