THE HAGUE – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Tuesday to ask Ukrainian forces to stop fighting around the MH17 crash site, a government spokesman said.
“The prime minister this morning called the Ukrainian president with a request to halt hostilities around the crash site,” Jean Fransman told AFP, after fighting with pro-Russian separatists prevented international investigators reaching the site for a third day.
Poroshenko told Rutte he would do everything possible to allow investigators access, Fransman said.
“Rutte expressed his concern about the fact it appeared the investigators may today yet again not reach the site,” Fransman said.
“This is important because we want to get to the crash site as quickly as possible to get the victims and bring them home.
“Mr Poroshenko said that he will do everything possible to make access possible.”
The Ukrainian military confirmed early Tuesday that violence was still raging.
“Pockets of insurgents are continuing to fire on Ukrainian positions from the towns of Snizhne, Torez and Shakhtarsk,” it said, referring to towns within about 30 kilometres (18 miles) of the site.
The fresh conflict came a day after rebels admitted Kiev had regained control over part of the vast site, where the remains of some of the 298 victims from the MH17 crash still lie 12 days after the disaster.
Kiev would not confirm the rebels’ claim, saying only that its troops had entered a string of towns around the scene.
A Dutch and Australian police mission needs access to the site to recover victim remains and personal effects.
Over 200 bodies have already been recovered and sent to the Netherlands for identification. The Netherlands and Australia were home to most of the people on the flight, which the West alleges was brought down by separatists.