Premature to talk about compensation for Iran's 2020 downing of airliner, says Canadian aide

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FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale answers questions from media.

OTTAWA (Reuters) -It is too early to discuss how much compensation to pay relatives of those killed when Iran shot down an airliner last year, even though Tehran has suggested an amount, a Canadian adviser said on Thursday.

Many of the victims were Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Last month Iran's cabinet allocated $150,000 for each family of the 176 people who died when Revolutionary Guards downed the Ukraine International Airlines plane near Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.

Former Canadian cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, charged with helping the victims' families, said the amount of compensation could only be agreed at special talks between Iran and the five nations whose citizens had died.

"Their floating of a number is way, way premature ... they do not get to determine what the level of that compensation is," Goodale said by phone, adding there was no agreement on where and when the talks would occur.

Goodale declined to say what the appropriate amount should be, noting legal experts had speculated it could significantly exceed $150,000.

"There is enormous work yet to be done on how much" Iran should pay, he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Iran had yet to answer "many legitimate questions" about how and why the plane had been shot down.

"Reparations are more than just compensation," he said in a statement to Reuters, adding Tehran had "great responsibilities for justice, transparency and accountability".

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool)