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Personal belongings and luggage of passengers between debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. EPA Photo

GENEVA: The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said today it was negotiating safe passage to the Malaysia Airline crash site with rebels controlling eastern Ukraine.

The security body is in talks with the rebels to create “a humanitarian corridor allowing access to this region to do the necessary work as well as the investigations,” OSCE chief Didier Burkhalter said on Swiss television, adding that it was also seeking access to the plane’s black box flight recorder “currently in the hands of the separatists.”

Two video conferences between OSCE, Ukrainian and Russian representatives were held overnight and a third will take place today, he said.

Thirty OSCE monitors including the Swiss deputy of the group’s Ukraine mission are en route to the site, Burkhalter added.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people crashed down in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, in what the United States called a missile attack.

Burkhalter, who is also president of Switzerland, offered his country’s assistance to Ukraine to help identify the victims.

He said Switzerland, which holds the rotating OSCE presidency, was seeking to promote dialogue instead of violence as well as “the possibility to move in the direction sought by the Russians, that is, toward a decentralisation of power in Ukraine... (and) respect for minorities.”--AFP

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