Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cameron: culprits who shot down MH17 must be held to account Prime minister speaks after chairing Cobra meeting on Malaysia Airlines jet brought down over Ukraine on Thursday

David Cameron has said that those responsible for the "absolutely shocking" shooting down of the Malysia Airlines jet over Ukraine "must be held to account".
Speaking after a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee, the prime minister also insisted it was too early to know for certain exactly who was to blame for the attack that has killed almost 300 passengers.
"It is an absolutely shocking incident. It cannot be allowed to stand," he said. "If, as seems possible, this was brought down, then those responsible must be held to account and we must lose no time in doing that."
Cameron said information was "coming in all the time" and that, until more was known about the incident, it was not possible for him to give a more definitive response.
He also appealed to the Russian and Ukrainian governments to "do all they can so that we get to the bottom of what happened in this absolutely dreadful loss of life".
The prime minister is planning to discuss the crisis with other international leaders – including possibly Barack Obama, and Vladimir Putin – and he has rescheduled a cabinet meeting that was due to take place at Chequers so that it will be held in London instead.
At the Cobra meeting on Friday morning, Cameron, senior ministers and intelligence officials considered the latest evidence about what is known about the cause of the crash, as well as receiving an update about the Britons involved.
A cross-Whitehall meeting on Thursday night concluded that there were a range of possible explanations for the downing of the Malaysian jet and that it was impossible to be "100% sure" at that point exactly what had happened, according to a Downing Street spokeswoman.
She said: "This is a very serious incident if indeed the plane was brought down by a missile and we will not rush to conclusions.
"The priority is to make sure that we get independent international investigators to the site in time for them to be able to assess what happened."
Malaysia Airlines has said that nine Britons were on board flight MH17 but, according to Downing Street, this could be a "slightly changing picture" because there were some passengers on the flight whose nationalities were not yet known.
Britain was instrumental in pushing for a meeting of the United Nations security council to discuss the crisis. Cameron has also been at the forefront among EU leaders in pushing for tougher sanctions on Russia because of its continuing reluctance to defuse the situation in Ukraine, but the attack on flight MH17 takes the crisis to a new dimension.
At the Cobra meeting, ministers will also discuss support for the families of the Britons killed when the plane crashed, and what efforts will be made to recover and repatriate their bodies.
One victim has been named as Glenn Thomas, 49, a media officer at theWorld Health Organisation in Geneva. He was one of up to 100 people on the flight on their way to an international Aids conference in Melbourne, Australia. 
Paying tribute to Thomas, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said: "I can confirm he was on the flight travelling to Australia to attend the Aids conference in Australia. 
"For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve. We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional. Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock." 
Thomas, a former BBC journalist, was reportedly from Blackpool and had recently celebrated his birthday. 
It has also been reported that two Newcastle United fans travelling to see their team play in New Zealand are feared to be among the victims.
The fans' website reported that John Alder and Liam Sweeney were on board flight MH17.
Alder, believed to be in his 60s, and Sweeney, 28, were flying to New Zealand to watch their team play in a pre-season tour.
A tribute on the website said: "Both were well known to away followers, particularly John, whose usual match day attire led to the affectionate nickname of 'the Undertaker'. There has been no official confirmation of the names of any of the nine British passengers on board the Boeing 777.

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