US and Iraqi forces have agreed to launch a joint search and rescue mission to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, officials announced on Friday, amid growing international speculation that the plane may have crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
The two countries have been coordinating their search for a plane that disappeared in the Strait of Malacca in March 2014.
The search operation was suspended after the discovery of a suspected fuel tank on the seabed off Malaysia’s southern island of Sumatra in October.
The plane went missing with 239 people on board.
The agreement came hours after the two countries agreed to resume joint military exercises in the northern Arabian Sea.
It came after the United States and Saudi Arabia announced that they would send aircraft to help locate the plane.
The two countries were due to hold a meeting in Washington on Monday.
The U.S. and Saudi leaders had hoped to have a breakthrough by Wednesday but were waiting for confirmation from the Indian government that the search would resume, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
“We’re very hopeful that we can resume our military exercise in the north-west Indian Ocean on Wednesday,” Guterre said.
“We hope to have it on Wednesday.
But it may take some time.”