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UN passes resolution on MH17

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Australia has used the United Nations Security Council to ramp up pressure on Russia to open up access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site and end the conflict in Ukraine.

After the Security Council unanimously endorsed Australia’s resolution demanding international investigators have full and unrestricted access to the site, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop demanded Russia use its influence over Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists.

“There must be a ceasefire in the immediate area around the site,” Ms Bishop told the Security Council.

“The victims must be treated with dignity, brought back to their homes and laid to rest.

“All parties are required to fully cooperate with these efforts.

“Russia must use its influence over the separatists to ensure this,” she said.

Other Security Council members, including the US, the UK and France, applauded Australia’s leadership on the disaster.

“The adoption of this resolution is a decisive step by the Security Council,” Ms Bishop said.

“It is an unambiguous response from the international community to an utterly deplorable act – the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 killing all 298 passengers and crew on-board, including 80 children.”

Bishop told the meeting Australia was in mourning and it was “despicable” access was not being provided to the site.

The resolution demands “the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities”.

Up to 39 Australian citizens and residents died when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crashed on Thursday, with intelligence reports indicating it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

“Grief is now accompanied by outrage as we witness grotesque violations at the crash site,” Ms Bishop said.

“This demands a response. That is why Australia has brought this resolution to the Security Council.”

Speaking after the resolution was passed, Russia’s representative to the Council, Vitaly Churkin, deflected responsibility for the crash saying it was the result of “armed clash in Ukraine”.

He also accused the United States UN representative of being ill-informed about the steps Russia had taken to ensure international experts could access the site as soon as possible.

If that was the case, the American Embassy should be better informed, he said.

“Indeed there is no need to turn a tragedy into a farce,” Mr Churkin said.

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