World Bulletin/News Desk
Putin said he was in contact with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after a Boeing 777 passenger airliner came down in an area under rebel control, killing all 298 people on board, many of them Dutch citizens.
"Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations," Putin said at a meeting with Russian Orthodox Church leaders at a monastery Sergiev Posad, near Moscow.
"It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a tragedy."
Putin, who has blamed the airliner tragedy on Poroshenko for refusing to extend a shaky ceasefire with rebels in the region, said he hoped the Ukrainian president would be able to offer a peaceful way out of the conflict.
Kiev accuses pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the airliner with help from Russian intelligence representatives.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian separatists will welcome experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and from Ukraine's government to the crash site of the Malaysian airliner, one of their leaders said on Friday.
"Today 17 new workers and four official experts from Kiev arrived in Donetsk. Soon they are due to arrive at the site of the tragedy. We support the maximum number of experts possible," Sergei Kavtaradze said.
U.S. investigators are also preparing to head to Ukraine to assist in the aftermath of a Malaysian airliner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine with 298 people on board, an official said on Friday.
FBI and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board personnel are headed to the region to serve in an advisory role for the investigation of Thursday's incident, the U.S. official said.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said that agency would send at least one investigator but that it was not yet clear when the official would go or if other staff would be needed to assist, citing the "still fluid situation."
"The facts, as they are uncovered, will dictate our actions," Bresson said.
An NTSB representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agency's plans.
Malaysia Airlines said on Friday it had determined the nationalities of all but four of the passengers aboard its flight MH17 which crashed in eastern Ukraine.
The airline's Europe head Huib Gorter said the flight had had 189 Dutch passengers, 29 Malaysian, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, four Belgian, three Filippino, one Canadian and one New Zealander on board as well as four of as yet unidentified nationalities.Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Temmuz 2014, 17:56