March 27, 2019 / 5:43 AM / 3 months ago

Australia, Netherlands start talks with Russia over MH17 downing - Dutch minister

FILE PHOTO: Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, Iraq December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Dutch and Australian government officials have met their Russian counterparts to discuss who is responsible for the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said on Wednesday.

All 298 people aboard were killed when the aircraft, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. About two-thirds of the dead were Dutch.

“The first trilateral meeting has recently taken place,” Blok told reporters in Sydney.

“We cannot go into the content of the process because confidentiality is vital here, but I can say this - we remain committed to achieving truth, justice and accountability.”

In May 2018, the two governments said they would hold Russia responsible after investigators traced the “Buk” missile system they said had been used to bring it down to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in Russia’s western city of Kursk.

At the time, President Vladimir Putin responded that the airliner had not been brought down by a Russian missile.

Australia has said it will seek unspecified financial damages for families of its 38 citizens killed.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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