Abbott flies to the Netherlands as he threatens Russia again

MORE than 500 Australian federal police, military and diplomatic staff were leaving the initial MH17 recovery effort as Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened further sanctions on Russia on the weekend.

Mr Abbott on Saturday night flew out to the Netherlands to give Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte his condolences and discuss the recovery and investigation.

His trip comes as Australia has further escalated a diplomatic fight with Russia, with Mr Abbott saying he would consider a ban on exporting uranium to the country.

The threat followed Russian President Vladimir Putin last week putting sanctions on Australian agricultural exports, as part of wider sanctions on the western world.

But the diplomatic fight has not slowed efforts in the Netherlands to identify and repatriate the bodies, with 65 bodies now identified of the 298 victims.

The Dutch lost more people than any other single country, at 189 victims, when the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over the eastern Ukraine last month.

The nation has also been leading recovery and investigation efforts, with Australian and Malaysian forces, to identify bodies and bring them to their respective homes.

Mr Abbott said on Sunday the Australian effort now included more than 500 federal police, military and diplomatic officials, who were now entering a "drawdown phase".

Joined by AFP commissioner Tony Negus and Defence Force Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Mr Abbott will meet with Mr Rutte and Dutch leaders on Monday morning.

"In The Netherlands their task continues, as Australian and Dutch scientists finalise the victim identification process to bring some closure for families," Mr Abbott said.

The trip would then head to the United Kingdom, where Mr Abbott and senior officials will be briefed on security issues by British authorities.


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