JOURNALIST Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Ukraine pushing all sides to allow the bodies to be recovered. I spoke to her a short time ago. Foreign Minister thank you very much for your time. What is the latest? We have had resolutions, we have had tougher sanctions announced but still nothing.
JULIE BISHOP Karl, our mission is to get onto the crash site. Our teams are ready, the Dutch and Australian teams, our experts are here and we want to get access to the crash site so that we can retrieve the remaining bodies and remains that are on the site and also to gather the evidence for the air crash investigation. Today our team attempted again to get down that road to the crash site. We even sent a reconnaissance team out early but we couldn’t get through because the fighting was continuing. And Karl, we are in the middle of a full scale war here. There is heavy weaponry. There is artillery. It’s a really serious level of fighting going on. And so we just can't get through to the crash site.
JOURNALIST From a diplomatic point of view though, Russia says it is now on side, it is cooperating. Ukraine says the same thing. So what is, where is it going wrong and at what level? Are we talking about these smaller groups of undeclared rebels and if this is the case, and they’re not cooperating with each other, let alone the larger war here, how are they going to cooperate with the UN?
JULIE BISHOP Currently our team is located in rebel-held territory and we also have a team in Kyiv. And when I talk to the political leadership, they give me assurances that there will be a humanitarian corridor and that there will be a ceasefire to enable our team to get onto the site. But then out on the ground, the sides are fighting each other and there’s weaponry and there’s just a huge full-scale fight going on.
JOURNALIST If you don’t, if you can’t control those sides, then how do you expect them to respond to the UN resolution? How are you going to take it forward in any positive way?
JULIE BISHOP We are working with the OSCE, this is the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe, and they are the honest broker if you like. They deal with the separatists, they deal with the Ukraine Government and they give us assurances each day as to whether we can or can’t access the crash site. And they are trying really hard. We send out reconnaissance groups. They check out the site. And if they can't get all the way there, they come back and say it is not safe to go. So we will continue to do that.
JOURNALIST I know you also visited the Red Cross today. Can you give us some sense of what that was like?
JULIE BISHOP Well, the Red Cross have been on the site, particularly straight after the crash, but they haven't been on there for some time because the fighting has intensified. But they have now located a significant pile of personal effects that apparently was delivered to the morgue in Donetsk just after the crash. We have offered to help transport the personal effects from the morgue into the Netherlands so that we can identify it and return it to people. Because we know that personal effects can be so very important to next of kin and family at this devastating time. Our AFP experts have offered to be involved, along with the Dutch team. And we think it is so very important to make every effort we can. But also the experts are telling us that they think around 80 bodies could still be on the crash site. And so we are determined to retrieve those bodies, get them to the Netherlands so that they can be identified, and then returned to their homes and to their loved ones.
JOURNALIST Just finally, when you are talking about that many bodies, when you are talking about these little keepsakes, I guess, that families would love to get their hands on and get hold of to remember their loved ones, does it grab you emotionally?
JULIE BISHOP This whole experience has been so heart breaking for so many people in the Netherlands, in Malaysia, in Australia. And I have a small role to play. Tomorrow, I have to convince the politicians here to pass a resolution so that we can be present here and carry out our work. We need a simple majority. So I've been doing what I can to meet with members of parties and urge them to vote for this resolution that gives support to the Australian and Dutch teams being here and carrying out the work that we must do for the sake of all of the families who have lost people in this terrible and tragic incident.
JOURNALIST Your work is certainly nowhere near done on this. We appreciate what you are doing. Obviously busy times ahead in what you have got to do tomorrow. So Foreign Minister, we appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
JULIE BISHOP Thanks Karl.
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