Plane row: France apologises to Bolivia

2013-07-04 08:27

Cape Town – France has issued a statement of apology to Bolivia for closing its airspace to President Evo Morales' jet, reports said on Thursday. Morales was flying back to Bolivia from Moscow when his plane was grounded in Vienna for almost 14 hours over suspicions it was carrying US fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

"The foreign minister called his Bolivian counterpart to tell him about France's regrets after the incident caused by the late confirmation of permission for President Morales' plane to fly over [French] territory," the BBC quoted French foreign ministry spokesperson Philippe Lalliot sa saying.

According to the report, French President Francois Hollande, who was in Berlin at the time, said he granted permission as soon as he knew it was Mr Morales' plane.

Along with France, Bolivia had also accused Italy, Spain and Portugal of blocking the plane.

Morales is calling the rerouting of the plane a provocation to Latin America.

His presidential plane arrived home in Bolivia's capital around midnight on Wednesday local time (0400 GMT on Thursday), an AP report said on Thursday.

Morales told supporters gathered at the airport that some European countries should free themselves from the United States. His government has claimed the US government was behind the incident.

"It is an open provocation to the continent, not only to the president; they use the agent of North American imperialism to scare us and intimidate us," he said.