Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now blaming U.S. “escalation” in the Middle East for the death of 57 Canadians, who were killed when Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 on board.
Trudeau said the Canadians killed would be “home with their families” right now if tensions in the Middle East had not risen because of U.S. actions.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau said in an interview with Global television.
“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war. Innocents bear the brunt of it and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing,” he said.
Trudeau also said the international community has been “very, very clear about needing to have a non-nuclear Iran,” but added that it needs to continue “managing the tensions in the region that are brought about by U.S. actions as well.”
President Trump this month ordered U.S. forces to take out terrorist and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani after Iran fired missiles into Baghdad, killing an American. In response, Iran fired more missiles into Iraq, targeting U.S. military bases. In the chaos, Iranian forces shot down the Ukranian plane, which they at first denied but then acknowledged they had “unintentionally” downed the plane.
Trudeau’s comments mirror those of Iran, which blamed the death of those killed by the Iranian surface-to-air missile on “U.S. adventurism” that prompted both countries’ militaries to go on high alert.
In the interview, Trudeau said he had spoken with Trump about the incident.
“I have spoken to him and I have talked about the need to de-escalate tensions,” he said. “I’ve talked about the tremendous grief and loss that Canadians are feeling, and the need for clear answers on how this happened and how we’re going to make sure it never happens again.”
Trump has no made no comment on talking with Trudeau.
The two have a rocky relationship. Last month, Trump called the Canadian prime minister “two-faced” after Trudeau and other foreign leaders were seen on video ridiculing Trump at a NATO summit near London.
Meanwhile in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday called the shooting down of the Ukrainian plane an “unforgivable error” and pledged to punish those responsible.
Rouhani added that “one person cannot be solely responsible for the plane crash” and said the country is in the midst of a full investigation. After Iranians protested against the government, Rouhani said his government is “accountable to Iranians and other nations who lost lives.”
“For our people it is very important in this incident that whoever was at fault or negligent at any level” is prosecuted, he said. “Anyone who should be punished must be punished. Iranian armed forces admitting their mistake is a good first step … We should assure people that it will not happen again.”
An Iranian judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said there have been arrests. “Clearly, as President Rouhani has said, Iran made a terrible mistake. It is good they have apologized.”