BEIRUT: Lebanon has given the green light for the bodies of the Lebanese, who perished in the crash of ill-fated Air Algerie passenger plane, to be transported to France for DNA testing, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said on Tuesday.
“We have no other choice,” Bassil told a local TV station. “All the countries have agreed to keep efforts centralized and we must take advantage of France’s resources, knowing that ours (resources) are meager.”
Bassil refused to give a date for the return of the bodies to Lebanon.
France had asked Lebanon's permission to undergo DNA testing on the victims of Air Algerie plane in Paris, while Mali vowed full cooperation with Beirut.
The French government requested Lebanon’s permission to transport remains of Lebanese victims to Paris to run DNA testing on samples brought from relatives by the official Lebanese delegation.
The delegation asked France to allow DNA expert Doctor Fouad Ayoub to be part of the sampling process to speed up the efforts.
The delegation includes Ayoub, Director-General for Emigrant Affairs Haitham Joumaa, Secretary-General of the Higher Relief Committee Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair and two officers from General Security and the Lebanese Army.
The delegation that arrived in Mali over the weekend met with Foreign Affairs Minister of Mali, Abdullah Diop, to follow up on tragic incident.
Diop expressed readiness to place all of its country's capabilities at the disposal of the Lebanese delegation to help it with its mission, the state-run agency said.
Lebanon’s Charge d’Affairs in the Ivory Coast, Ahmad Sueidan, arrived at the crash site Monday, accompanied by a number of the victims' relatives.
At least 19 Lebanese and 54 French were among 118 people on board flight AH5017, which had taken off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso bound for Algiers.
The plane, which was operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie, crashed in Mali less than an hour after its takeoff.
Investigators in Bamako and Paris continued to search for clues as to the cause of the Air Algerie plane crash, and why it came down with such a force that it completely disintegrated.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday the pilots of the Air Algerie passenger plane had asked to turn back, in a new development to a complex probe into the tragedy.
"What we know for sure is that the weather was bad that night, that the plane crew had asked to change route then to turn back before all contact was lost," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in his latest briefing about last week's disaster.
Speaking hours after the black box flight recorders of the McDonnell Douglas 83 jet arrived in Paris from Mali to help investigators, Fabius said air crash experts currently on the remote desert site of the accident were working in "extremely difficult conditions".