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Without recent escalations, Iran plane crash victims would be ‘home with their families’: Trudeau

WATCH: Trudeau says plane crash victims would be 'home with their families' if not for increased tensions in Iran – Jan 13, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the 57 Canadians killed when Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 would be alive if not for recent escalations in tensions in the region.

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Trudeau spoke with Global National‘s Dawna Friesen on Monday about the Canadian response to the plane crash and the ongoing work happening to support the families, identify the victims, and hold Iran to account in the investigation into how the missile that took down the plane was fired.

“If there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” said Trudeau.

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“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war. Innocents bear the brunt of it and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing.”

His comments come ahead of a meeting being hosted by Canada on Thursday in London, U.K., in which members of the International Coordination and Response Group are set to lay out their next steps for pushing for credible answers and access to black box data.

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READ MORE: Canada hosting response group meeting on next steps in Iran plane crash probe

Trudeau said the goal of the meeting will be looking at ways to demand justice.

“I think full admission, acknowledgment of responsibility and some form of compensation is going to have to come.”

Trudeau has faced repeated questions over the past week on whether he believes U.S. President Donald Trump also bears some responsibility for the incident, given that it came just hours after missile strikes by Iran were launched in response to his targeting and killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.

Iran initially denied shooting down the Ukrainian aircraft just moments after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport on Jan. 7, 2020.

Officials admitted doing so days later after Trudeau gave a press conference saying Canada and its allies had intelligence suggesting Iran had fired the missile.

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Iran said its military mistook the aircraft for an incoming hostile target.

READ MORE: ‘Livid’ Maple Leaf Foods CEO takes to Twitter to express frustration over Iran plane crash

Soleimani was Iran’s second-in-command and the architect of its campaign to expand influence across the Middle East.

His death immediately sparked protests in Iraq and Iran against the U.S. but within days, those protests took aim at the Iranian government for downing the aircraft. Of the victims killed in the resulting crash, more than 80 were Iranian.

Those protests are calling for accountability but police in Iran have reportedly begun using live ammunition and tear gas to break them up.

READ MORE: Video appears to show Iran police shoot at demonstrators protesting plane shootdown

Trudeau referenced what he described as the “hurt” and “frustration” of victims’ families in Iran and said the protests “should be heeded very carefully by the Iranian government.”

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He also said he spoke with Trump about the incident.

“I have spoken to him and I have talked about the need to de-escalate tensions,” he said. “I’ve talked about the tremendous grief and loss that Canadians are feeling, and the need for clear answers on how this happened and how we’re going to make sure it never happens again.”

But he said the focus for him and the Canadian government right now remains on the victims, even as it could be “weeks, perhaps even months” before the victims are repatriated for burial.

“The grief they’re going through is not to be consoled right now. They want answers, they’ve expressed anger and outrage and also immeasurable pain,” he said.

“I am hurt like all Canadians. I am angry like all Canadians. But unlike many people I have a job to do that will be able to help these families directly. Getting answers for them is my entire focus right now.”


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