Putin, Dutch PM hold probe talks

Updated: 2014-07-23 07:37

By Reuters in Moscow and Amsterdam (China Daily)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte by telephone in the early hours of Tuesday to discuss an international investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

It was the second time in three days that Putin has spoken to Rutte about the crash, in which 298 people died. Of those, 193 were Dutch citizens.

The Kremlin said the "direct and full access of experts to the tragedy site" for further investigation by the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization was discussed.

"In this light, the need for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire in the conflict zone was stressed again," the Kremlin added.

Putin and Rutte have had a number of telephone contacts in the past few days, in the course of which they exchanged opinions on measures linked to organizing an international investigation of the MH17 crash, ITAR-Tass reported on Tuesday.

"Prime Minister Rutte described the Russian President's statement as a fruitful contribution to these efforts," it said. "Putin and Rutte discussed further possible steps in that direction."

Putin has urged all the warring parties in Ukraine to ensure conditions for the full investigation of the crash. He called it a terrible tragedy and said that Russia "has repeatedly called on all the warring parties to immediately stop bloodshed and sit down at the negotiating table", ITAR-Tass reported on Monday.

"It can be said with confidence that had the combat actions in the east of Ukraine not resumed on June 28, this tragedy would have not happened, for sure," he said.

"At the same time, nobody should or has the right to use this tragedy for achieving mercenary political goals," Putin said.

In a related development, Reuters quoted Rutte as saying on Tuesday that attitudes toward Russia had changed "fundamentally" since last week's downing of the airliner, and the European Union must put pressure on Moscow to do more to calm the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

"We want justice, a united European Union approach - and pressure on Russia to do more," Rutte said. "Our priorities are getting our people back, an independent investigation and justice."

(China Daily 07/23/2014 page12)