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Canada offers $25K to families of Canadian victims on Flight PS752

Canada will give the families of individuals killed in the downing of UIA Flight PS752 thousands of dollars to help with their immediate needs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today — stressing it's only a first step on the road to getting Iran to compensate those grieving families.

"I want to be clear, we expect Iran to compensate these families," Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa Friday morning.

"But I have met them. They can't wait weeks. They need support now."

Of the 176 passengers and crew killed, 57 were Canadian citizens and 29 were permanent residents, said the prime minister. 

He said the government will give those families $25,000 per victim to help cover the cost of immediate needs such as funeral arrangements and flights. Earlier this week, the government announced it also would waive fees and speed up visa processing times for those affected by the tragedy.

Trudeau's latest update comes as Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne is in Oman for a rare face-to-face meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif following last week's disaster near Tehran. Canada cut diplomatic ties with the country in 2012.

Champagne was expected to press Zarif for concrete action after Canada — along with four other nations that lost citizens in the crash — gathered earlier this week to call for an independent criminal investigation, among other demands. Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the flight last week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces that the government will give $25,000 to the families of every Canadian victim of Flight PS752 to help them with living expenses as they await compensation from the Iranian government. 0:44

"That is what we continue to push on. That is what the international community is pushing on," said Trudeau. "So far, the people we've engaged with in Iran have been aligned with that wish, for now."

Champagne was in the U.K. Thursday to chair the first meeting of an international co-ordination and response group that includes 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.

Their demands include:

  • Full access within Iran to allow them to provide consular services to relatives of the victims.
  • Assurance that 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 that 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."

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.

Trudeau said the flight's black box recorders were "significantly" damaged, adding there are only a few laboratories in the world, including one in France, that can process broken flight recorders quickly.

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