OTTAWA — Iran has promised to hand over the flight recorders from the civilian airliner it shot down in January "without further delay" and begin compensation talks with the families of those killed in the incident, the federal government said Monday.
Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the promise during a telephone call with Canadian counterpart Francois-Philippe Champagne, according to a summary of the conversation provided by Global Affairs Canada.
The readout said Champagne underscored the need for a transparent investigation of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752.
There were 176 people killed — including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents — when the Iranian military shot down the plane shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8.
"Minister Zarif committed to Iran sending the flight recorders to France for analysis without further delay," reads the summary. "Iran will detail its progress on this issue at the International Civil Aviation Organization this week.
"He also agreed to enter into negotiations for reparations, and to provide an update to Canada and the other grieving nations at the next meeting of the International Co-ordination and Response Group."
Iran has been repeatedly accused of refusing to co-operate with efforts to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash and hold those responsible to account, including by initially refusing to hand over the plane's black boxes.
The Islamic Republic's representative to the Montreal-based ICAO promised in March that the flight recorders would be handed over to Ukraine within two weeks, but the country missed that deadline. Iran later blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for not delivering on that promise.
Iran's representative, Farhad Parvaresh, then told The Canadian Press earlier this month that Iran would bypass Ukraine and send the flight recorders directly to France as soon as all the parties that want to be there when they are downloaded can travel.
Several victims' families put pressure on the federal government last week as they launched the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, saying they wanted to know what Ottawa was doing to pressure Iran to co-operate with investigators.
They said they planned to question Champagne during an upcoming meeting about the government's plan to hold Iran to account and called for the International Court of Justice to step in if Iran does not send the flight data recorders to France.
Iran initially denied responsibility before admitting its role in the aircraft's destruction.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2020.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press