Venezuela says US violated airspace

Caracas to summon US ambassador to explain alleged violation by US navy aircraft.

    The US says the S-3 navy aircraft may
    have "strayed inadvertently" [AP]
    Venezuelan authorities contacted the pilot by radio, who responded that he would head back to another Caribbean island, Curacao, a former Dutch colony used by the US for training, Rangel said.

    Rangel said Venezuela believed the flyover was deliberate.


    "This is just the latest step in a series of provocations in which they [the US] want to involve our country," he told a news conference.
    Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister, also said that Patrick Duddy, the US ambassador, would be summoned and that "we will ask for an explanation" on Tuesday.
    'Strayed inadvertently'
    Sean McCormack, the US state department spokesman, said on Monday that the aircraft "may have strayed inadvertently into Venezuelan airspace" while conducting a counter-drug mission.

    Rangel said Venezuela believed the incident was
    deliberate and saw it as "provocation" [EPA]

    But he added that
    the US respected Venezuela's sovereignty and that it "will look into the allegations and provide them [Venezuela] with an answer".
    A US defence official said the aircraft was likely to have accidentally entered Venezuelan airspace after experiencing "intermittent navigational problems".

    The US Joint Interagency Task Force South, which co-ordinates counter-drug operations in the region from Florida, thanked Venezuelan air traffic controllers for their "assistance in guiding the US aircraft to international airspace".


    A statement from the agency said the incident was under investigation.


    Complaint against Colombia


    The incident comes after Venezuela said it had issued a formal protest to Colombian authorities about an alleged cross-border incident involving Colombian soldiers.

    Venezuela said on Sunday that a 60-strong Colombian military unit was "intercepted" 800 metres within the Venezuelan side of the border in the southeastern state of Apure.
    Colombia has denied the incident.


    Tensions between Colombia, Venezuela and the US remain high after last week's report from Interpol, the international police agency, that said documents on laptops seized from a Colombian Farc rebel camp in Ecuador - which Colombia says show evidence of links between the group and Venezuela - had not been tampered with.


    Colombia and the US have accused Venezuela of supporting and funding the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), but Venezuela has denied the charges, saying the documents are fake.


    Interpol was asked by Colombia to examine the laptops, along with hard disk drives and several USB memory sticks following their recovery after the March raid in which Raul Reyes, one of the group's senior leaders, was killed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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