Rouhani apologizes to Zelensky on behalf of Iran for downing Ukrainian jet

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymir Zelensky to discuss the tragic downing of a Ukrainian passenger airliner in Iran and apologized on behalf of his country, Kiev said.

Rouhani expressed his condolences to the Ukrainian people as well as to the relatives of the victims, the Ukrainian president’s office said in a statement.

“[Rouhani] apologized on behalf of Iran for the tragedy that took the lives of 176 people. The head of the Islamic Republic also fully acknowledged that the tragedy was caused by the erroneous actions of his country’s military.”

Tehran also vowed to lend “all the necessary assistance” to the Ukrainian expert group investigating the case and promised to bring all those responsible to justice. Zelensky welcomed the admission of guilt by Iran and said that it paved the way for further investigation of the matter “without any delays.”

He also said that he expects Iran to “fully cooperate” with Ukraine “in accordance with international law.”

Zelensky commented that the bodies of the flight crew should be brought back to Ukraine “as soon as possible,” and called it a matter of “utmost importance.” He added that Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry would send a note to Iran detailing further legal steps aimed at resolving the issue between the two nations, including compensations.

Rouhani also held a phone conversation with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and promised to continue the investigation of the tragedy, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported. The two leaders agreed that their nations should work together to clarify all the circumstances of this catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the EU Aviation Safety Agency urged European airliners to avoid Iranian airspace until further notice. The advice follows an earlier recommendation that the European nations ban their airline companies from overflying Iran at an altitude lower than 7.62 kilometers.

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