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US should not blame Russia for crash of Malaysian airliner: Donald Trump

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on October 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP photo)

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says the United States should not blame Russia or anti-Kiev fighters for last year's downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine.

Trump made the remarks in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday while commenting on a new report from Dutch investigators which claims Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian-made rocket and warhead.

Trump was asked what he would do if he becomes president to hold Russia accountable for this deadly incident.

"They say it wasn't them," he replied. "It may have been their weapon, but they didn't use it, they didn't fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you'll probably never know for sure."

Trump went on to say that the United States should focus on its own problems and advised it not to "get involved" in conflicts abroad.

"I think it is horrible," Trump said of the crash. "But they're saying it wasn't them. The other side says it is them. And we're going to go through that arguing for probably for 50 years and nobody is ever going to know. Probably was Russia."

"It's a long ways away. We have to get back to making America great again," he said. "It's terrible, but we really probably won't know for sure. And you'll probably never find out."

View of the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk, on August 2, 2014. (AFP photo)

On July 17, 2014, the Boeing 777-200 passenger plane crashed in Ukraine’s conflict zone, killing all 298 people aboard. The plane was travelling to Kuala Lumpur from the Dutch capital Amsterdam.

According to US intelligence and military officials, the aircraft was hit by a Russian SA-series missile launched from eastern Ukraine.

Russian state media, however, released satellite images purportedly showing a Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jet firing a missile at the MH17.

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