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'Deal done' to obtain black box recorders

By Colin Francis

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says that the leader of the pro-Russian rebels has agreed to hand over both black boxes from Flight 17 to Malaysian investigators who are in Ukraine.

Mr Najib added that, as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai, independent international investigators will be given "safe access" to the crash site.

In a hastily arranged news conference at his residence, Mr Najib said that following any necessary forensic work, the remains of the 43 Malaysian citizens who were on the plane would be flown to their home country.

"I must stress that although an agreement has been reached, there remain a number of steps required before it is completed," Mr Najib said. "There is work still to be done, work which relies on continued communication in good faith.

"Mr Borodai and his people have so far given their co-operation."

Anger and resentment toward the Russian-backed rebels and Moscow have been escalating worldwide, including in Malaysia, where there have been calls for economic sanctions against Moscow.

Mr Najib said yesterday that the remains of the Malaysian victims must be returned to Malaysia before the Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

This year, it falls on the 28th.

The UN Security Council has approved a resolution calling for an international investigation into the Malaysia Airlines plane downed in Ukraine.

It came after Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said his nation backed the resolution, effectively assuring it would pass.

Diplomats had pressured a reluctant Moscow to approve the Australia-proposed resolution that demands international access to the crash site and a ceasefire around the area.

Of the 298 people aboard flight MH17 when it went down, 37 were Australian.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the unanimous approval was an unambiguous response to an "utterly deplorable act".

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