Independent investigators could soon be at the scene of the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine after foreign minister Julie Bishop had a “constructive” discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The two talked for about half an hour on the sidelines of the Asia Europe Meeting in Milan, the first high-level discussion between Australia and Russia since Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would “shirtfront” the Russian president at the G20 meeting next month.
Asked if she had followed up on the prime minister’s threat, Ms Bishop laughed and said no.
“I had a very detailed discussion with him,” Ms Bishop said.
“I implored him to use Russian influence over the separatists in eastern Ukraine to enable our investigators to have access to the crash site.”
Mr Putin responded “very constructively” to a request to ensure access to Dutch, Malaysian and Australian investigators, she said.
She added that experts needed one more visit to a specific area of the crash site to search for remains.
“It is becoming rather urgent because of course the Ukrainian winter will set in (soon),” she said.
A Russian political aide reportedly told Ms Bishop the trip to Brisbane was in his schedule, implicitly confirming Mr Putin’s appearance at the G20 meeting next month.
At the Asia Europe meeting, Ms Bishop offered funds to the United Nations to help battle Ebola.
She also spoke to officials from countries where any infected Australians could be taken for treatment.