By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada will give $25,000 to each of the families of the 57 victims of Flight PS752 that was shot down inadvertently by Iran, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at a press conference Friday.
As he spoke, Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif were in a face-to-face meeting in Muscat, Oman.
The two discussed “the necessity of full access to Iran for officials from Canada and other grieving nations to: provide consular services, assist in ensuring victim identification meeting international standards and participate in a thorough and transparent investigation,” according to a statement from Champagne’s office released following the meeting.
Iran also agreed to a “transparent analysis of the black box data” and Champagne and Zarif discussed “the duty Iran has towards the families of the victims, including compensation,” the statement said.
It was not mentioned in the statement, but Trudeau said Champagne would urge Zarif to a de-escalation of tensions in the area between Iran and the U.S. that culminated in the downing of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane.
At the press conference, Trudeau called the $25,000 a “first step” to help families cope financially with burial arrangements, travel costs, and other expenses.
But the funding does not forgo Iran compensation.
“We expect Iran to compensate these families,” Trudeau said.
Champagne and Zarif committed to continue discussions as the situation evolves to ensure justice for the families of the victims.
All 167 passengers and nine crew died when the plane was brought down by Iranian missiles, Jan. 8, shortly after takeoff from an airport at Tehran. The plane was mistaken as an enemy attack with Iran on alert after firing missiles a few hours earlier at Iraqi bases. That was retaliation for the American killing of General Qasem Soleimani.
The victims were from six countries: Iran (82), Canada (57) Ukraine (11), Sweden (10), Afghanistan (4), and the UK (3).