CANBERRA, Australia – Australia has sent 50 police to London in anticipation of deploying them to Ukraine to secure the Malaysian plane crash site as part of a proposed U.N. team, the Australian prime minister said Thursday.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he accepted “there is potential for difficulty” in deploying police in an area of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists who are suspected to have shot down the airliner.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was traveling with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans to Kiev to seek a memorandum of understanding with the Ukraine government that will allow international police to secure the crash site, Abbott said.
“We are ready to deploy Australian police to Ukraine to help secure the site as part of an international team under United Nations authority,” Abbott told reporters.
He said that the task of the international police team would be to ensure a full and thorough search of the site so that all victims’ remains were recovered and sent to the Netherlands for identification.
Abbott said he had personally spoken overnight with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin about the need to secure the site where Malaysia Airlines plane was downed by a surface-to-air missile last week. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.
Bishop presented an Australia-sponsored resolution to the U.N. Security Council that passed unanimously on Monday demanding that rebels cooperate with an independent investigation and allow all remaining bodies to be recovered. The first bodies of the crash victims arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and a second airlift was planned Thursday.
Australian hopes that Russia’s support for the resolution will influence the rebels to obey it.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he regretted that Malaysian victims of the disaster could not be sent home before the end of Muslim holy month of Ramadan.