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RUSSIA TO GIVE `BLACK BOX' FROM KAL FLIGHT TO S. KOREA

A transcript of the "black box" flight recorder from the KAL jetliner downed in 1983 will be handed over to South Korea, President Boris Yeltsin said.

Soviet fighter jets shot down the Boeing 747 off Sakhalin Island, killing all 269 people aboard, after it strayed inside Soviet airspace.Yeltsin's decision to hand over the flight recorder came days after he canceled a trip to the Far East, including Japan and South Korea, because of a territorial dispute with Tokyo. The move could help Russia improve relations with South Korea.

Black boxes record the conversations of pilots, and the KAL recorder also could help resolve mysteries about the plane crew's actions.

The airliner was on a flight from New York to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska, when it was shot down on Sept. 1, 1983.

Soviet officials initially kept silent about the disaster but later responded to international outcry by saying the jet was on a secret spy mission when it entered Soviet airspace.

The Soviet government previously said it never found the flight recorder for Flight 007. But Western officials doubted the claim, and the downing of the plane worsened Soviet relations with South Korea and the United States.

Yeltsin said the black box was found in KGB archives but didn't say when or what light it shed on the crash.