Malaysia Denies Providing Inconsistent Information on Missing Plane
Malaysian officials are denying accusations they have provided inconsistent information on a missing jetliner with 239 people on board, as the search for the plane entered its fifth day.
Transport Minister Seri Hishammuddin said Malaysia is dealing with an "unprecedented" situation and will do "whatever it takes" to find the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing Saturday.
"My heart reaches out to the families of the passengers and crew, and I give you my assurance that we will not reduce the tempo and that we will not spare any effort to find the missing plane."
At a news conference Wednesday, the minister said 42 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries have so far "found nothing" in their search, which now spans over 50,000 kilometers.
He said the focus is both on the South China Sea, where the plane was last tracked by civilian air traffic controllers, and the Strait of Malacca, which is across the Malaysian peninsula and several hundred kilometers away.
Earlier Wednesday, the Malaysian military backed away from statements that it last tracked the plane in the strait, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
At the news conference, a military official said the plane may have been spotted on radar at 2:15 a.m. Saturday local time 320 kilometers northwest of the Malaysian island of Penang. But, the official said, he cannot be sure it was indeed the flight in question.
If the plane did make it to the Strait of Malacca, it would call into question theories that the jet experienced some sort of sudden catastrophic event shortly after takeoff that prevented pilots from communicating with authorities.
The plane disappeared from civilian radar without any distress calls about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday, when weather conditions appeared to be clear.
Obama Meeting Ukraine's New PM at White House
U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting Ukraine's interim prime minister at the White House Wednesday, as the standoff between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian region of Crimea continues.
This is President Obama's first meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and is meant to underscore U.S. support for the new government and the Ukrainian people.
As part of the talks, Mr. Yatsenyuk and President Obama will discuss financial assistance for Ukraine. The U.S. has already pledged $1 billion in aid.
The Ukrainian prime minister's visit to Washington comes as Crimea, with its majority-Russian population, prepares for a Moscow-backed referendum Sunday on joining Russia.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the Group of Seven most developed economies will call on Russia Wednesday to stop all efforts to "annex" Crimea. The G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.