KIEV, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani apologized over the downing of a Ukrainian plane and has promised that everyone responsible for the tragedy will be punished, the Ukrainian president's press service reported on Saturday evening.
Following a conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on his official Twitter page that "acknowledging the shooting down of the plane is a step in the right direction."
"I insist on the immediate completing of identification of the bodies and their return to Ukraine," said Zelensky. "The perpetrators must be held accountable. We look forward to further legal and technical cooperation."
The Iranian president assured Zelensky that everyone involved in the plane crash would be held responsible, and that the Ukrainian group of experts would get all the necessary support for further effective cooperation in the legal and technical fields.
Rouhani said that he would give instructions so that the bodies of the killed Ukrainians would be returned home as soon as possible.
Zelensky told his counterpart that the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine would immediately send a note to Iran with a clear list of all subsequent steps, including the legal aspects of resolving the issue of compensation.
Rouhani said Saturday that the Iranian Armed Forces' "unintentional" missile strike due to "human error" caused the crash of the Ukrainian plane.
A total of 167 passengers and nine crew members were killed on Wednesday as a result of the crash of the Ukrainian Boeing 737, which was flying from Tehran to Kiev. The airplane crashed at approximately 6 a.m. Tehran Time (0230 GMT) shortly after takeoff.