UN to vote as early as Monday on crash resolution

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's foreign minister said an urgent vote could take place as early as Monday in the U.N. Security Council on a resolution demanding international access to the Ukraine plane crash site.

Julie Bishop told reporters in Washington on Sunday she expects all 15 council members to fully support Australia's proposal.

The resolution calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow international access to the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 298 people and asks for the full cooperation of all countries in the region, including Russia.

At least 37 Australian citizens and residents were on board when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week.

The resolution demands that armed groups who control the crash site do not disturb debris, belongings or victims' remains and cease military activities in the area.

It also demands that "those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the resolution as "very strong," adding he hoped it would be passed unanimously by acclamation.

"It demands that investigators be given full and unfettered access to the site, to the debris, to the black boxes, to individuals who may be able to shed light on what happened, and that this be done without any interference," Abbott told Sydney Radio 2GB on Monday.

Russia has the power to veto the resolution as a permanent council member.

U.N. diplomats have tweeted that the council will vote Monday afternoon on the proposal co-sponsored by Australia, France and Lithuania.

"I would expect every country to give it their full support," Bishop said.

Abbott said Russian President Vladimir Putin "said all the right things" during a telephone conversation about ensuring an international investigation into the disaster.

"I'm now going to try to ensure that as far as Australia humanly can, we insist upon these things happening," Abbott told 2GB hours after the discussion.

Bishop said she will hold talks with the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond about the resolution.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Timmermans was on his way to New York to speak to the U.N. Security Council members "to further expand the international coalition pushing for quick recovery of the bodies and getting to the bottom of the terrible events on MH17."

"Australia has a lot at stake here," Bishop said. "They have been murdered and the Australian government will not rest until we're able to bring the bodies home to the Australian families who are waiting for them."

Bishop said she had spoken to Australian families of victims who want their loved ones returned.

"We owe it to them," she said.

The government was determined to secure an independent investigation that was "impartial and thorough and competent and able to determine who is responsible for this so they can be brought to justice," she said.

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