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Iran, Ukraine in new round of talks over downed plane

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crash wreckage. (Mehr News Agency/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran is hosting officials from Ukraine in a second round of talks over compensation for a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran in January after being struck by two missiles, killing 176 people.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Yenin and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Baharwand met in Tehran on October 19 at the start of the two-day talks.

Baharvand said Iran “has nothing to hide about this tragedy” and was ready to “honestly inform the Ukrainian people and delegation about the details” of the crash, according to a statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Yenin also held talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who described the first round of talks in Kyiv in July as “positive and constructive” and hoped that those in Tehran achieve their desired results.

In a statement by Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, Yenin welcomed “Iran’s decision to take full responsibility for the downing of the Ukrainian plane, as well as its readiness to provide equal compensation to the relatives of all victims, regardless of their citizenship.”

He also emphasized the “need for an unbiased and objective investigation of the circumstances of the air disaster and called on the Iranian side to ensure access” to all of its elements.

Following the Kyiv talks in July, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the process.

Iranian officials have said that the country’s forces accidentally shot down the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on January 8.

A misaligned missile battery and miscommunication between soldiers and superior officers were to blame for incident, according to Iran’s aviation authorities.

Flight 752 was downed the same night that Iran had launched a ballistic-missile attack that targeted U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and Tehran’s air defenses were on high-alert at the time in case of retaliation.

Iran’s missile attack was in response to a U.S. drone strike that had killed the powerful commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Major General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad five days earlier.