Hagel Confers with Malaysian Counterpart as U.S. Sends Reconnaissance Planes on Southern Route
March 18, 2014 - 6:08 am
The Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. is calling its ships off the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and sending reconnaissance along the southern route that the plane could have taken.
Based on satellite pings delivered hours after the Boeing 777 went missing, investigators are searching along a northern corridor that extends up to Kazakhstan and a southern corridor into the vast Indian Ocean.
Last night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Malaysian Minister of Defense Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and “conveyed that the United States remains fully committed to working with the Government of Malaysia to find the plane and that the U.S. Navy has re-tasked reconnaissance aircraft to search the ‘southern corridor’ in the Indian Ocean,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Secretary Hagel noted that this search mission is in many ways unprecedented and thanked Minister Hishammuddin for his government’s collaboration with international partners.”
The two cabinet ministers will meet in April at a defense summit in Honolulu.
White House press secretary Jay Carney remained guarded on Washington’s view of the missing plane, telling reporters “we have not seen enough evidence to support any scenario to allow us to draw a conclusion about what happened.”
“We’re not prepared to make any assessments about which scenario is most likely until we have more information and more conclusive information,” he added.
Administration sources have been steering reporters toward the theory that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean from an early point in the investigation, but Carney has admitted that President Obama is concerned about the whereabouts of the plane.
The New York Times reported that Malaysia refused larger-scale help from the U.S., something Carney wouldn’t go into either.
“I can tell you that the NTSB, the FAA, and the FBI are all assisting in different ways in this effort. The Department of Defense has obviously provided assets as part of the search effort. I can also say that the Malaysian government has been working very hard to deal with a unique and unusual set of circumstances, and we appreciate that and understand it. And we are working closely with the Malaysian government, and have had and appreciate good cooperation with the Malaysian government. We’re doing everything we can to assist that investigation as that investigation seeks to find out what happened and what caused it,” Carney said.
“So I don’t have more insight into that, except to say that we’re working closely with the Malaysian government. We have had good cooperation in that effort. And this is obviously a unique and challenging circumstance that everybody is involved in investigating.”