UPDATE (1/10/2020): Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne revised the number of Canadian citizens on the flight from 63 to 57.
OTTAWA — Iran’s civil aviation authority says it has invited Canadian investigators from the Transportation Safety Board to join a growing team probing the plane crash outside Tehran that killed 138 people believed bound for Canada.
The statement posted online said representatives from Ukraine International Airlines, the plane’s operator, arrived in Tehran today to begin the work.
That announcement came as Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne spoke to his Iranian counterpart about Wednesday’s crash.
A summary of the phone call released this morning by Global Affairs Canada says Champagne stressed to Mohammad Javad Zarif the need for Canadian officials to be allowed into Iran to provide consular services, help with identification of the deceased and to take part in the investigation.
His office said Champagne insisted that Canada and Canadians have “many questions which will need to be answered.”
The summary did not provide any details about Zarif’s reaction to Champagne’s demands and Champagne’s office declined to provide any further information.
It wasn’t clear from the Iranian statement if the plane’s manufacturer, American-based Boeing, had been invited to take part in the investigation under International Civil Aviation Organization rules that are guiding the probe.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that Canada had pushed to be part of the Iranian-led investigation of the crash near Tehran that killed everyone on board, including 138 people bound for Canada, at least 63 of whom were Canadian citizens.
Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, when it labelled the country a state sponsor of terrorism.
Watch: Trudeau says Canada is pushing Iran for direct access to plane-crash investigation
The crash came after a week of soaring tensions in the Middle East, occurring just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on bases in Iraq where American and allied troops are stationed. Iran said the attacks were retaliation for the American killing of a top general near Baghdad last week.
Champagne also told Zarif that Canada and Canadians have many questions about the crash, which killed 138 people who were en route to Canada. He also condemned Iran’s missile attacks against military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops have been stationed. Canadian soldiers were present in one of those bases.
The Iranian attack was retaliation for the American killing of a top general near Baghdad last week.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 9, 2020.