The Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, has praised Switzerland for its willingness to contribute towards a compensation fund for families of victims killed in an air crash over Germany.
Ivanov told his counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, that last year’s collision in airspace controlled by Switzerland was a top concern for the Russian people.
Russia “welcomes the Swiss government's willingness to participate in the compensation fund even before the causes of the crash are determined,” said Ivanov.
Calmy-Rey stressed that the goal was to provide compensation as quickly as possible to the families of the 71 victims.
“First contacts have already taken place,” she said. She gave no details about the amount and time plan for the compensation.
Rosemarie Rotzetter of the Swiss air traffic control agency, Skyguide, said last week that the families' lawyers had been invited to discuss an undisclosed compensation offer at the end of October.
Switzerland, Germany and Skyguide announced in June that they were setting up a compensation fund for the relatives of those who died. None of the parties disclosed how much money would be allocated to the fund.
Lawyers representing victims' families have called for SFr150 million ($113 million) to be set aside.
Most of those killed in the mid-air collision over Überlingen in southern Germany in July 2002 were schoolchildren from the Russian city of Ufa on a trip to Spain.
They were on a Bashkirian Airlines plane carrying 69 people which struck a cargo jet flown by the delivery service DHL International with a crew of two. All those on board died.
Germany's federal air accident investigation office plans to release its report into the accident at the end of this year.
Investigations have focused on the apparently contradictory instructions issued by a Skyguide controller.
Ivanov told Calmy-Rey that Russia regretted European countries had declined to send election observers to monitor the voting in Chechnya last week. He urged Switzerland and other nations to keep an open mind about the republic.
Calmy-Rey said Switzerland condemned all forms of terrorism, but was also very concerned about the human-rights situation in Chechnya.
swissinfo with agencies
The mid-air crash on July 1, 2002, of a Russian passenger plane and a DHL cargo jet in Swiss-controlled airspace claimed 71 lives.
Switzerland, Germany and Skyguide announced in June that they were setting up a compensation fund for the relatives of those who died.
None of the parties disclosed how much money would be allocated to the fund.
Lawyers representing relatives have demanded that SFr150 million ($113 million) be paid into a compensation fund.
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