Champagne, Iranian counterpart in rare meeting to discuss Flight PS752 downing

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne is sitting down with his Iranian counterpart in a rare face-to-face meeting today, more than a week after a Ukrainian passenger flight carrying 176 people was shot down near Tehran.

Champagne's meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is set to take place in Oman, according to Champagne's office.

It comes a day after Canada and an international cohort laid out their demands for Iran, including an independent criminal investigation, after the Middle Eastern country admitted to accidentally shooting down the flight last week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also scheduled to hold a news conference in Ottawa this morning to report on Canada's efforts since the attack. CBC News will carry his remarks live starting at 10:30 a.m. ET. 

Champagne was in the U.K., in London, on Thursday to chair the first meeting of an international co-ordination and response group made up of representatives of nations that lost citizens in the crash: Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.

After a day of closed-door meetings, ministers from the five nations emerged with a framework for co-operation with Iran.

The international group's demands include:

  • Full access within Iran to allow them to provide consular services to relatives of the victims.
  • Assurance the victim identification process is conducted with "dignity, transparency and to international standards, and to ensure families' wishes are respected."
  • Access to a thorough, independent and transparent international investigation governed by the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
  • A commitment from Iran it will continue to assume full responsibility for the disaster and co-operate with compensation talks.
  • An "independent criminal investigation."

"We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand," said Champagne.

"There's a path for Iran to continue in the first step they've done, which is to admit full responsibility. And when you admit full responsibility, there are consequences that flow from them and full co-operation is part of that."

Possible interim compensation for victims

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok attended the meeting to brief the ministers on lessons learned during his country's five-year probe of the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. Investigators concluded the aircraft was shot down by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed.

Under international law, Iran is leading the latest aviation investigation because the crash occurred within its borders, but there are precedents for handing that responsibility over to another country that suffered losses.

Champagne, Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Afghanistan's Acting Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman hold a moment of silence ahead of a meeting of the International Coordination and Response Group, at the High Commission of Canada in London on Thursday. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

On Wednesday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Iran is co-operating with the two Canadian Transportation Safety Board investigators on the scene, but Canada still wants official status in Iran's investigation — which would allow Canadian officials to take part in the analysis of the flight recorders' data.

Besides pushing Iran to compensate the victims' families, the prime minister's parliamentary secretary, Omar Alghabra, said the government is considering offering family members of the victims a form of interim compensation while they wait for settlement of their compensation claims against Iran.

"We are actively exploring these options and we hope a decision will be made in short order," Alghabra said. 

Watch: Champagne outlines demands from grieving nations.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne lists the five demands made by the International Coordination and Response Group for the families of the victims of PS752. 1:50

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