News World Deal to deploy forces in Ukraine

Deal to deploy forces in Ukraine

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Ukraine’s acting prime minister hopes parliament can next week ratify a deal that would allow Australian police and soldiers to take a lead role in securing the MH17 crash site.

The air-crash investigation has been officially handed over to the Netherlands but a separate deal authorising an international security force is yet to be passed.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop signed an in-principle deal on that with her Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin in the early hours of Friday morning.

“We are now preparing a special document that is to be ratified by the parliament,” acting PM Volodymyr Groysman said.

“I hope that this will take place next week – the ratification that is.”

Getting the arrangement finalised has been complicated by the collapse of the ruling coalition and the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

But Mr Groysman is confident that parliament can be recalled for an emergency session.

“We have to ratify the agreement that was signed for the police mission to enter Ukraine and to provide for security of experts that will be working on that territory,” he said on Friday.

“We are concentrating on that. There’s inter-operation between the parliament, the government and the president to find an opportunity to fast-track ratification of this agreement.”

The Netherlands is sending 40 unarmed military police to the site. Amsterdam says it doesn’t need a special deal at this stage because the police won’t have weapons.

But Australia wants to send in almost 200 federal police officers – some of who could be armed – as well as a small defence force contingent.

Officials from both countries on Friday accompanied a team of monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to examine the wreckage and prepare the deployment by mapping the territory.

“They’re doing GPS co-ordinates,” OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said next to the scorched earth at the main scene of the crash near the village of Grabove.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday advised Australia was close to finalising the deal allowing the deployment of Australian forces.

“My understanding is that it does need parliamentary approval but nothing that’s happened overnight (the collapse of the government) is expected to hinder that,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

Dutch authorities say 189 coffins have been flown to the Netherlands where the remains will be identified, with another flight set to carry 38 more from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv to Eindhoven on Saturday.