Use influence to achieve ceasefire in Ukraine: Merkel to Putin
Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence over the pro-Russian separatists to achieve an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine where a Malaysian passenger plane with 298 people on board was brought down by a missile.
In a telephone call yesterday, they agreed that an international commission under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) should investigate Thursday`s crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine.
The commission should be given full access to the crash site, they said.
The two leaders called for the convening of the international "contact group" on Ukraine as soon as possible to agree on a ceasefire in the long-running conflict between government forces and the rebels, a government spokesman said.
All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 aircraft en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam were killed when the plane was reportedly hit by a surface-to-air missile fired from the rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine.
Merkel had earlier underlined the importance of an immediate ceasefire in the fighting between the government forces and pro-Russian separatists to carry out an independent investigation into the air disaster and to recover the bodies of the crash victims.
She called upon Russia to make a contribution to end the fighting on both sides and to achieve a political solution to the crisis.
Russia has a great responsibility to contribute to a political solution, she said.
There are many indications that the Malaysian aircraft was shot down and therefore "we must take this incident very seriously", she told a news conference in Berlin on Friday.
It is now quite important that an independent international investigation will be launched to establish the cause of the disaster and to bring to justice those responsible for this "horrible tragedy."
This incident has once again showed that a political solution must be found to the Ukraine crisis, she said.
She said the contact group involving representatives of the Ukraine government, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) must meet urgently and try to find a durable ceasefire on both sides and to work for a political solution.
The events of the past week have shown that it will not be an easy task, but "in my view there is no sensible alternative to a diplomatic and political solution," she said.
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