News / USA

Obama Pledges US Help for Malaysian Plane Probe

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to the Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Delaware about the economy and the Malaysian airliner brought down over eastern Ukraine Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard, July 17, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to the Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Delaware about the economy and the Malaysian airliner brought down over eastern Ukraine Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard, July 17, 2014.
Reuters

President Barack Obama directed U.S. officials on Thursday to do all they could to support an investigation into what caused a Malaysian jetliner to crash in a Ukraine war zone and pledged support to the affected countries as the probe moves forward.

Obama went ahead with a trip to tout infrastructure investment in Delaware and to raise money for Democrats in New York despite the incident in which 295 people, including reportedly 23 Americans, lost their lives.

Before leaving the White House, Obama held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the United States on Wednesday imposed the most wide-ranging sanctions yet on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.

During the call, which came at Moscow's request, Putin informed Obama about the downed plane.

"I can confirm that President Putin near the end of this morning's phone call with President Obama noted the early reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Ukraine and Russia traded accusations of blame over the incident, cranking up global pressure for a way out of a bloody local conflict that risks fueling a new Cold War.

Obama made brief remarks about the plane at the beginning of a speech about roads and bridges in Wilmington, Delaware.

"It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy," he said. "I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why."

Vice President Joe Biden said it appeared that the downing of the jetliner near the Ukraine-Russia border was not an accident and that the passenger jet apparently was "blown out of the sky."

"This is truly a grave situation," he said during a speech in Detroit. The two leaders said the United States was working to confirm reports that Americans had been on board.

Both Obama and Biden spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, offering assistance to help determine what happened to the downed Boeing 777.

Obama and his Ukrainian counterpart emphasized that evidence from the crash must remain in Ukraine so that international investigators had a chance to look at all of it.

Obama also called Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to express condolences and offer U.S. support.

Adds unpredictable element

The crash injected an unpredictable element into the increasingly violent confrontation between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Republican lawmakers, who have called for tough U.S. action against Moscow over Ukraine, quickly called for retaliation against Russia if it were found to have been involved in the crash.

"I believe there should be serious consequences if we find out that it was either Russian agents, Russian equipment or Russians directly that were responsible for the downing of this airliner," New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte said in a speech in the U.S. Senate.

Obama, determined not to appear to be a hostage of world events, continued with his trip after warning Putin that the United States could impose more sanctions on Russia if Moscow did not take steps to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis.

The new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia included penalties against Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft and other energy, financial and defense firms.

In Wilmington, Obama ate a hamburger with a supporter at a diner after shaking hands and hugging children in the restaurant.

In New York, he attended Democratic fundraisers that were not open to the press.

Seeking to show that Obama was on top of the crisis despite his travel, the White House said he convened separate calls with Secretary of State John Kerry and senior members of his national security team, including CIA Director John Brennan, after Air Force One arrived in New York.

The president was briefed on our ongoing efforts to support the Ukrainian government and a prompt international investigation into what took place," the White House said.

"The president directed his national security team to continue offering whatever assistance is necessary to advance the international effort to determine what happened."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs