Washington: The United States called for an unimpeded and prompt probe into the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, and said evidence from the crash site must not be moved.
In calls with pro-Western Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, US President Barack Obama put down an early marker on the necessary conditions for an air accident investigation that will have to take place in the middle of an escalating civil war.
More than 150 Dutch citizens are believed to be among the dead when the Malaysian Airlines jet crashed. US officials said the jet was hit by a surface-to-air missile but could not say who launched the attack and from where.
The White House said that Obama told Rutte the United States was prepared to contribute “immediate assistance” for “a prompt, full, credible and unimpeded international investigation.”
Obama and Rutte also agreed on the need for “immediate access” to the site of the crash in territory held by pro-Russia separatists, a White House statement said.
Secretary of State John Kerry said his staff was trying to determine whether there were any Americans aboard the flight as he backed calls for a “credible” probe.
“Horrified” by the crash, Kerry said Washington was “prepared to assist with a credible, international investigation any way we can.”