Washington: US President Barack Obama has called Malaysian Prime Minister and his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss the situation of Malaysian plane crash in the war-torn eastern Ukraine that killed nearly 300 people.
Obama also had a teleconference with his national security team yesterday to confer with them the crash of the plane, which US Vice President Joe Biden believes was apparently shot down.
"A Malaysian aircraft heading from Western Europe to Kuala Lumpur as it crossed or was near the border of Ukraine and Russia apparently has been shot down shot down, not an accident, blown out of the sky," Biden said.
Obama convened a conference call with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the tragic loss of the airline.
"Upon arrival in New York City, the President convened a call with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the tragic loss of the Malaysian Airlines flight. Afterward, the President convened a secure call with senior members of his national security team to receive an update on the tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
During the conference call Obama was briefed on efforts to support the Ukrainian government and a prompt international investigation into the tragedy.
"The President directed his national security team to continue offering whatever assistance is necessary to advance the international effort to determine what happened," he said.
In his call with Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak, Obama expressed condolences to the Malaysian families who lost their loved ones in the tragic event.
"The President told the Prime Minister that United States has offered immediate assistance to support a prompt international investigation. President Obama reaffirmed the strength of the friendship between the US and Malaysia and underscored that the US stands ready to provide any assistance or support necessary," the White House said.
Obama also spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the tragic crash of the flight.
"Poroshenko welcomed the assistance of international investigators to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of the crash site," the White House said, adding that Obama assured him that US experts will offer all possible assistance immediately.
Both the Presidents emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy, it said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said this tragedy would not have happened if there were peace in Ukraine, or at least if the combat operations had not been resumed in the southeast of Ukraine.
"And of course, the country in whose airspace it happened bears the full responsibility for this terrible tragedy," Putin said.
He said he had instructed the military agencies to offer any possibilities in the investigation of the crime.
"I'd also like to instruct the Russian government to use the capacity of civilian agencies to thoroughly investigate this incident," he said.
"We have done everything and will do everything to make sure that the real cause will be made public to Russians, Ukrainians and to the whole world. These are unacceptable things, and of course everyone needs to learn a lesson," he said.
Everyone needs to draw conclusion from this tragedy and we need to get to the real cause of this tragedy, he added.
Malaysian Prime Minister said his government was dispatching a special flight to Kiev carrying a special Malaysia disaster assistance and rescue team, as well as a medical team.
"The Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down. At this stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy. But we must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned," Najib said.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of US said it had advised American airlines to avoid the conflict prone area.
"The FAA was in contact with US carriers following the crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17. The agency confirms that carriers have voluntarily agreed not to operate in the airspace near the Russian-Ukraine border," it said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, alleged that Russian-based separatists have shot down more than a dozen planes/helicopters in Ukraine over the past few months.
"It's too soon to make any conclusion about the crash right now. We hope to have more information within the next day or so. If evidence emerges that Russia was involved, that would obviously be extremely concerning," she said.
According to media reports, there were nearly two dozen American citizens on board the ill-fated plane.
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Updated Date: Jul 18, 2014 09:13:19 IST