Italy vows 'strong' EU action over Ukraine

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A man walks among the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine. Photo: Alexander Khudoteply/AFP
17:29 CEST+02:00
Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini on Monday vowed the EU would agree on a "strong" response to the crisis in Ukraine, which escalated last week with the deaths of 298 people on board a downed passenger jet.

Ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers tomorrow, Mogherini said she expected a “coordinated, united and strong” response to the Ukraine crisis would be agreed upon.

Her statement comes four days after a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over rebel-held territory in Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board. The US and European powers have pinned the blame on Russia, a charge strongly denied by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

SEE ALSO: Tributes paid to German victims of MH17

EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss further sanctions against Russia at Tuesday’s meeting, just six days after European leaders agreed to take economic measures against Moscow.

Mogherini said she foresaw there being “no great differences” between European powers on the matter, adding that she has invited her Ukrainian counterpart to the meeting.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has been asked to “update us on the situation on the ground, on the recovery of bodies and observers’ access” to the crash site, Mogherini was quoted by Ansa as saying.

Ukrainian authorities recovered 192 bodies over the weekend and loaded them onto a refrigerated train, although the government said on Sunday its departure was being blocked by rebels.

SEE ALSO: OSCE: 'Didn't receive proper access to site'

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With Italy holding the EU presidency, Mogherini is tasked with getting consensus on the response to the Ukraine crisis. The foreign minister however faced accusations last week of being too close to Russia, following a visit to Moscow earlier this month.

The debate came to the fore as Mogherini was nominated by Italy to become the EU’s next foreign policy chief. After hours of negotiations in Brussels, however, leaders failed to agree and will meet again next month to decide who will take the top job.

READ MORE: Ukraine tragedy hits Mogherini's Ukraine hopes

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