RNA - “Politicization of this tragedy must be rejected. Focus on victims’ families,” Zarif tweeted on Friday after meeting with Francois-Philippe Champagne, his counterpart from Canada, many of whose dual citizens perished in the incident. The meeting took place at Ottawa’s request during a stopover in the Omani capital Muscat by Zarif, who was returning from a security conference in New Delhi.
In Oman today, met with Canadian FM @FP_Champagne to discuss consular, technical & legal cooperation among nations impacted by #PS752 tragedy.
Agreed on continued exchanges between respective experts.
Politicization of this tragedy must be rejected. Focus on victims’ families. pic.twitter.com/6QULuZhGcE
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 17, 2020
Zarif said the meeting was held ”to discuss consular, technical & legal cooperation among nations impacted by #PS752 tragedy.” The two sides “agreed on continued exchanges between respective experts,” he noted.
Carrying 167 passengers and nine crewmembers, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed outside Iran’s capital last Wednesday, moments following takeoff from the city’s Imam Khomeini airport, after being mistakenly identified by Iranian air defenses with an incoming cruise missile.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic later identified the cause of the incident as human error.
Head of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, also explained that the air defense system involved had erroneously identified the aircraft as a hostile missile. He added that the operator in charge had then tried to seek permission for the launch, but a communication breakdown prevented him from doing so, and forced him to decide within a “10-second” time span whether to act of his own accord or not.
The Islamic Republic’s Armed Forces were on the highest level of alert at the time of the incident after US President Donald Trump threatened to strike 52 targets inside Iran if the country sought to avenge the US’s earlier assassination in Baghdad of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.
Various cities across Iran, including Isfahan, Qom, and Zanjan, laid as many as 21 of the victims to rest amid immense grief on Thursday.
Leading Friday prayers in Tehran, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said “we were saddened and our hearts were broken by the plane crash,” adding, “We share their grief.”
According to IRNA, Zarif reiterated Tehran’s regret over the tragedy, and the two top diplomats agreed to meet again in due course to further address the matter.