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US blocks entry to Venezuelan leader's plane

Nicolas Maduro's plane is rufused entry to US airspace in what has been branded as another act of 'agression'

Washington stopped Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from flying through US airspace in an act Caracas branded as "agression."

Mr Maduro's plane was set to pass over Puerto Rico on the way to China but was refused entry to the airspace, which Foreign Minister Elias Jaua denounced as "another insult of north American imperialism against the government.

"No-one can deny airspace to a plane carrying a president on an international state visit.

"There is no valid argument to refuse airspace."

Mr Jaua said he hoped that US authorities would "rectify the error," which he blamed on lower-level officials.

Mr Maduro said the US had also refused to grant a visa to his chief of staff General Wilmer Barrientos, who had been expected to attend the UN general assembly in New York next week.

The president said he was going to China in a Cuban plane to "strengthen relations with the great power of the 21st century."

He also suggested that if the US insisted on obstructing its work, the UN should move its headquarters from New York.

Mr Jaua said Venezuela reserved "the right to take whatever measures we have to if the government of the US and its aviation authorities don't rectify this latest abuse."

President Evo Morales of Bolivia, whose plane was forced down in Austria in July after leaving Moscow, also reacted angrily.

He said that the US should prepare to face "international legal action for crimes against humanity."


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