The White House says Obama directed senior U.S. officials to remain in close touch with Ukrainian officials about downed plane. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday (July 17) that the White House is aware of reports that a Malaysian airliner crashed in Ukraine. "I can tell you that we are aware of reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia - Ukraine border. The President has been briefed on these reports. The President has directed his team to be in close touch with senior Ukrainian officials on this matter but I am not in a position, at this point, to confirm any of the details that are included in those reports. The President has been asked to be updated over the course of the day, Earnest said. Asked by reporters whether the White House could confirm reports the plane was shot down, Earnest said," I am not in a position to confirm. I know there are a number of reports speculating about the possible cause but I am not in a position to confirm." Interfax-Ukraine news agency has reported that a Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on killing all 295 people aboard. The aircraft, which is said to be a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.