Malaysia seals deal with Ukraine to expand personnel number at MH17 crash site

Debris from a crashed Malaysian Airlines MH17 Boeing 777 lies on the ground near the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region in this July 18, 2014 file photo. Malaysia and Ukraine have reached a bilateral agreement to expand the number of Mala
Debris from a crashed Malaysian Airlines MH17 Boeing 777 lies on the ground near the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region in this July 18, 2014 file photo. Malaysia and Ukraine have reached a bilateral agreement to expand the number of Malaysian personnel at the MH17 crash site. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia and Ukraine have reached a bilateral agreement to expand the number of Malaysian personnel at the MH17 crash site.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Ukraine parliament had ratified the agreement on Tuesday following discussions between him and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.

In a statement, Najib said the agreement allowed up to 90 Malaysian non-military personnel to join the Dutch-led team to facilitate the recovery of remains.

The recovery and investigations were called for by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166.

"I welcome this bilateral agreement which formally authorises the deployment of Malaysian personnel at the site. Now is the time to make it count.

"I implore all parties to cease fighting and allow the international team of investigators safe access to the crash site," Najib said.

The Prime Minister said he had, in recent days, held a number of meetings with European governments to discuss how to facilitate the probe into the downing of MH17.

On July 17, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft was shot down over Ukraine near the border with Russia, killing 298 people on board.

The Prime Minister had earlier worked behind the scenes to personally secure three breakthrough agreements from Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Borodai.

The agreements were to hand over the two MH17 black boxes to Malaysia, to facilitate the return of the victims' remains and to allow the international investigation team full access to the crash site.

Following the deal with Borodai, whose group controls the crash site, a number of Malaysian investigators had also been allowed to visit the area. But their access have been limited due to unsafe conditions.

This prompted Najib to state that more efforts were needed to ensure better access for the Malaysian team and to increase the number of personnel to ensure they could comb the area and conduct their investigations more thoroughly.

The black boxes are now being analysed by aviation authorities in Britain and the results are to be known within a few weeks.

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