[The VOR] The United States has refused permission for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's official presidential aircraft to pass through its airspace when the Venezuelan leader travels to the People's Republic of China this weekend, Venezuela's foreign minister said Thursday.
The government had received the word from US authorities the plane was denied rights to American airspace over the Atlantic, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told reporters in decrying the decision as an "insult."
"We denounce this as another insult of North American imperialism against the government," Jaua said.
"No one can deny airspace to a plane carrying a president on an international state visit. There is no valid argument to refuse airspace."
The foreign minister, who is set to travel with Maduro to Beijing, said he hopes US authorities will "rectify the error," which he blamed on lower-level officials.
Jaua said Maduro will not delay his trip, so the government is exploring alternative flight plans.
Venezuela and the United States were often at odds during the 14-year rule of the recently deceased former president Hugo Chavez and the two countries have not had ambassadors in each others' capitals since 2010.
[RT.com September 19, 2013 23:25
Edited time: September 20, 2013 18:30] The US granted approval for a last-minute flight plan which allowed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to fly over Puerto Rico on his way to China. Venezuela’s FM earlier told media an aircraft carrying Maduro was denied a path over the commonwealth.
Washington told Caracas Thursday night that permission was granted even though the request had not been properly submitted, Reuters cites State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf as saying.
Maduro tweeted at around 10:30 pm local time (0300 GMT) Thursday that he had left Venezuela for Beijing.
Earlier in the day, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told media the aircraft carrying Maduro to China was forced to find an alternate flight path. Jaua denounced the act as “an act of aggression.”
America's debt clock real time