February 7, 2019 / 6:25 PM / 9 days ago

Dutch confident Russia will agree to talks about downed flight MH17

A Dutch police officer points at damaged missile displayed at a news conference by members of the Joint Investigation Team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine who present interim results in the ongoing investigation of the 2014 MH17 crash that killed 298 people over eastern Ukraine, in Bunnik, Netherlands, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Thursday it was “increasingly confident” that Russian officials will be willing to meet soon for private talks on who was responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

An international investigation led by the Netherlands concluded that the passenger jet - en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur - was brought down by a Russian surface-to-air missile. Moscow has denied any involvement.

“We are in contact with Russia over national accountability via diplomatic channels,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said. “We are increasingly confident that we will sit down with the Russians shortly.”

MH17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people onboard, roughly two-thirds of them Dutch.

In May 2018 the Dutch and Australian governments said they would hold Russia responsible for the plane’s destruction after investigators traced the “Buk” missile system they said was used to bring it down to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

Responding at the time, President Vladimir Putin said the airliner was not brought down by a Russian missile.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Andrew Heavens and John Stonestreet

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