Iran says it’s open to bilateral talks over plane downing

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Jan. 7 (UPI) — The Iranian government said Friday it’s prepared to hold bilateral talks with the countries whose citizens were killed in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2020 near Tehran.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed shortly after takeoff Jan. 8, 2020, after an Iranian air defense battery shot it down. The crash killed 176 people, the vast majority from Iran and Canada, along with Ukrainian, Afghan, British, Swedish and German nationals as well.

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Iran blamed human error for the shootdown, saying the air defense unit operator incorrectly identified the plane as a threat in the wake of the U.S. military’s assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani earlier that month.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it’s been open to holding bilateral talks with the countries of the victims, but that the countries have tried to “take advantage of this painful incident” to advance political agendas.

Al Jazeera reported that four countries — Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and Britain — have called such negotiations with Iran “futile” after Tehran told them not to take part in group talks.

Iranian state-run Press TV reported that the government has begun the process of making compensation payments to the families of the victims.

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