Canada demands cooperation in Iran crash ahead of international meeting


Ottawa (AFP)

Canada vowed Wednesday to get to the bottom of the plane crash that killed dozens of its nationals in Iran, ahead of a meeting in London with other countries that lost citizens.

Foreign ministers from Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain -- which all had nationals who died -- are scheduled to meet on Thursday to press for "full cooperation from Iranian authorities," Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau told a press conference.

"Canada will not accept a situation where we feel that we're not being given the information that we're looking for," he said.

"Make no mistake about it, Canada is going to get to the very bottom of this."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his government intends to ask Tehran for compensation for the families of Canadian victims, which Ottawa officials said Wednesday was a top priority.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down by Iran in a catastrophic error shortly after taking off from Tehran last week, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

According to Ottawa, 57 of the victims were Canadian.

"Our first priority at this time is supporting the families and friends of the 57 Canadians who lost their lives in this tragedy," Garneau said.

"While we cannot bring back their loved ones, we can make sure that they receive compensation to help them navigate this difficult time."

Asked if Ottawa might provide monies to the victims' families and seek reimbursement from Iran later in order to fast-track what could otherwise be a lengthy process, Trudeau's parliament secretary Omar Alghabra said: "We are actively exploring these options and we hope to have a resolution in short order."

Iran has invited Canada's Transportation Safety Board to participate in its investigation, including the download and analysis of the black boxes.

Garneau said Iran has indicated it wishes to cooperate, noting that two Canadian investigators were due to examine the wreckage at Tehran's invitation.

But he added that he would like Iran, as lead investigator, to formalize Canada's involvement in the probe as an "accredited representative" to ensure access.

A week after the crash, Canadian universities observed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims, which included academics and students.