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Australian ex-Defense Minister says chances to find missing Malaysian airliner still good

March 07, 2015, 7:26 UTC+3 SYDNEY

The current stage of the operation in which four vessels are engaged, is to end in May

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SYDNEY, March 7. /TASS/. Australian ex-Defense Minister Angus Houston said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that chances were "still good" to find Malaysian Boeing passenger airliner, which went missing over the Indian Ocean a year ago.

According to Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Centre overseeing the search for MH370, "the chances of finding it are still good and we should be patient and persist with the search that's ongoing."

"I'm still quietly optimistic that with 57% of the search area, the high-priority area still to be searched, that one day, hopefully very soon, we might wake up and hear that it's been found," he said.

Asked whether the search operation, which is costly, will be curtailed in the nearest future, Houston said he was "not prepared to venture into that territory."

"Suffice it to say it's not Australia's decision," he said." It's something that has to be done in full consultation, in full partnership with Malaysia and China, and I guess later this month there'll probably be a meeting between the three nations at the officials level, probably in preparation for a ministerial meeting some time later on in April or May."

"So, the decisions, the way ahead needs to be decided by the three governments that have substantial interests in the outcome of this search," Houston added.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Abbott told the parliament on Thursday that the extensive search for the missing passenger airliner would likely be halted. The premier said hope remained that the search operation would yield results, but intensive search could not be continued indefinitely.

The current stage of the operation in which four vessels are engaged, is to end in May. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said earlier that experts from Australia, Malaysia and China were discussing what to do next if the search failed to produce result.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members.

Contact with the plane was lost about two hours after it took off from the Malaysian capital. No trace of the plane was found during extensive search in the Indian Ocean some 2,500 kilometers west of Australia in the first 1.5 months since its disappearance.

Last April, the scope of the search was reduced, and after analyzing huge amounts of satellite data, specialists moved the search zone southwest off the Australian coast.

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