'Tech problem' delayed Merkel plane overflight: Iran

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Iran on Tuesday blamed a "technical problem" after its airspace was briefly closed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plane as she flew to India, delaying her arrival and sparking a diplomatic row.

"The problem affecting the overflight of Iranian airspace by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plane was caused only by a technical question that was immediately resolved and it was able to continue," the foreign ministry said.

"The necessary authorisations were given for her plane to transit Iranian airspace, and the German embassy was informed of this," the official IRNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

Merkel, speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, declined to go into detail about the inconvenience, which saw her plane circle for two hours over Turkey before receiving permission to cross the Islamic republic.

But her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said the incident "shows a lack of respect towards Germany that we will not accept."

Germany is one of six world powers trying to convince Tehran to abandon sensitive nuclear work, which they fear is a front for a drive to develop an atomic arsenal. Iran denies such intentions.

© 2011 AFP

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