The Latest: Iran invites US agency to help with crash probe

International

Mourners place candles and photographs outside the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during a vigil for those killed after a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed, killing at least 63 Canadians, just minutes after taking off from Iran’s capital. (Codie McLachlan/The Canadian Press via AP)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on Iran-related developments (all times local):

8 p.m.

Iran has invited the U.S. accident-investigating agency to take part in the probe of this week’s crash of a Ukrainian jetliner near Tehran.

The National Transportation Safety Board said late Thursday that it would “evaluate its level of participation in the investigation.”

The extent of the NTSB’s role could be limited by U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Under rules set by a United Nations aviation organization, the NTSB is entitled to participate in the investigation because the crash involved a Boeing 737-800 jet that was designed and built in the U.S.

American, British and Canadian officials say it is “highly likely” that the Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down, possibly in an accident, by an Iranian missile. The NTSB says it will not speculate about the cause of the crash, which killed all 176 people on board.

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7:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is celebrating the killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander and is mocking Democrats for wanting advance notice of military operations.

Trump is in Toledo, Ohio, holding his first campaign rally since the fatal drone strike he ordered against Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Trump says he took “bold and decisive action” to save American lives and is claiming that Soleimani was looking very seriously at further attacks on U.S. embassies beyond Baghdad.

Trump says that, “If you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your grave peril.”

Trump is also mocking Democrats for criticizing his decision to kill Soleimani, and says he didn’t have time to give a heads-up call to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, alleging “she isn’t operating with a full deck.”

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7:20 p.m.

Australia’s prime minister says his government has received intelligence that suggests the downing of a civilian Ukrainian jetliner in Iran was unintentional.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments Friday come after officials from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom said it is highly likely that Iran shot down the plane that crashed near Tehran on Tuesday. They said the fiery missile strike could well have been a mistake amid rocket launches and high tension throughout the region.

Morrison told reporters: “Australia has received similar intelligence to that which has been spoken to by both the prime minister of Canada and from out of the United States. … All of the intelligence as presented to us today does not suggest an intentional act.”

Morrison declined to elaborate further on what intelligence Australia had received.

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7 p.m.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says Iran’s accident investigation agency has invited it to the site where a Ukrainian plane crashed, killing 176 people, including at least 63 Canadians.

The board says it has accepted the invite and is making arrangements to travel to the site after hearing from Iran’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. The board says it will be working with other groups and organizations already on site.

Canada’s foreign minister held a rare telephone conversation with Iran’s foreign minister late Wednesday to stress Canada’s desire to be a part of the investigation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that intelligence sources indicate the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.

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3:37 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country lost at least 63 citizens in the downing of a jet on takeoff from Tehran, says intelligence sources indicate the plane was shot down.

“We have intelligence from multiple sources including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said during a press conference Thursday in Toronto.

3:25 p.m.

Ukraine’s president is calling on other countries to provide any information they have about the fatal crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s statement, reported Thursday on his office’s Facebook page, came after U.S. officials said it was “highly likely” that the plane was downed by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile.

Zelenskiy’s statement did not address the U.S. claim directly. It said “we turn to the international partners of Ukraine: if there is evidence that will help the investigation, please provide it.”

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7:25 a.m.

Ukraine’s leader says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has assured him of full cooperation in investigating the fatal crash of a Ukrainian airliner near the Iranian capital and that Iran would provide experts access to all data.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with Rouhani by telephone on Thursday.

A statement on the Ukrainian presidential website says: “The Iranian party assured full cooperation with a view to holding an objective investigation and finding out the causes of the tragedy. Hassan Rouhani stressed that Iran would provide the Ukrainian expert group with prompt access to all the necessary data.”

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7:10 a.m.

The British government says it is investigating “very concerning” reports about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran, amid speculation that the plane may have been hit by a missile.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office says “the reports we have seen are very concerning and we are urgently looking into them.”

The Ukrainian International Airlines plane crashed Wednesday soon after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, killing all 176 people on board. Ukrainian officials say they have several working theories, including a missile strike.

Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday and called for “a full, credible and transparent investigation into what happened,” Downing Street said.

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7:05 a.m.

France’s military spokesman says that its fighter jets are continuing to make sorties over Iraq and Syria despite the international coalition’s suspension in activities.

Col. Frederic Barbry said on Thursday that France’s Rafales, based in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, made 14 sorties this week. Their main job is support, reconnaissance and protection for ground forces.

Like other coalition members, activities of France’s 200 troops in Iraq are currently suspended due to soaring tensions, with their movements “significantly limited.”

France alone has trained nearly 27,000 Iraqi soldiers over time. Barbry couldn’t say how long the suspension might last, but he stressed that France “is not withdrawing its soldiers from Iraq” and its priority remains the fight against the Islamic State group.

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6:45 a.m.

Canada’s foreign minister held a rare telephone conversation with Iran’s foreign minister to stress Canada’s desire to be a part of the investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian jetliner that killed at least 63 Canadians.

A readout of the call released by Ottawa on Thursday said Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif exchanged condolences and that Champagne emphasized that Canada wants to be part of the investigation.

He says Canadians have many questions which will need to be answered. There was no indication Iran agreed to allow Canada to take part in the investigation.

Allowing that might prove difficult as Canada closed its embassy in Iran in 2012, expelled Iranian diplomats from Canada and suspended all diplomatic relations.

Champagne also condemned Iranian strikes on bases in Iraq where U.S.-led Coalition forces, including Canadians, are stationed.

Italy and other allies with a diplomatic presence in Iran are helping Canada with consular assistance for friends and families of the Canadian victims.

The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops amid a confrontation with Washington over it killing an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general in a drone strike last week.

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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