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East Ukraine rebels deny threat to ban OSCE from crash site

Source: Reuters - Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:47 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with rebel denial)

KIEV, July 29 (Reuters) - Rebels in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday denied they had threatened to ban the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from the crash site of Malaysian flight MH17.

The self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR) said in a statement that information published in some media that it was refusing to cooperate with the European rights and security body was not true.

"The DNR government has long been working effectively with the OSCE mission," a statement said, adding that areas of cooperation included investigation into the plane crash and ceasefire talks.

Earlier the rebels issued a statement saying they were going to halt cooperation with the OSCE, until now the main body tasked with negotiating access to the crash site for international experts, saying it was serving U.S. and Ukrainian interests.

The OSCE did not immediately comment.

International experts, including the OSCE as well as Dutch and Australian police, have already been struggling to reach the site to recover the remaining body parts and investigate the downing of the plane.

Fierce fighting in the wider area surrounding the crash site prevented the experts from reaching it for the third successive day on Tuesday, with Kiev and the pro-Russian rebels accusing each other of blocking access.

Kiev and the rebels also trade accusations over responsibility for the downing of the airliner, in which all 298 people on board were killed. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Giles Elgood)

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