Bolivia 'could close' US embassy after plane incident

05.07.2013 16:10

President Evo Morales has threatened
to close the US embassy in Bolivia
after his official plane was banned
from European airspace.
The warning came as four other South
American leaders offered him support at
a special summit on Thursday.
His plane was forced to land in Austria
on Tuesday after France, Portugal, Italy
and Spain apparently barred it from
flying through their airspace.
There were unfounded suspicions that
US fugitive Edward Snowden was on
The Bolivian president blamed
Washington for pressurising European
countries into refusing him passage.
"My hand would not tremble to close the
US embassy," Mr Morales said.
"We have dignity, sovereignty. Without
America, we are better off politically and
'No reason to apologise'
His presidential jet was rerouted as he
travelled from a meeting in Russia where
he had suggested he would be willing to
consider an asylum application from Mr
Edward Snowden is wanted in the US on
espionage charges
The former CIA contractor is believed to
be holed up at the transit area of
Moscow airport after leaking details of a
vast US surveillance programme.
Mr Morales was joined by the presidents
of Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador,
Venezuela and Suriname at a meeting to
discuss the plane dispute in the Bolivian
city of Cochabamba on Thursday.
The leaders issued a statement after the
meeting demanding an explanation from
France, Portugal, Italy and Spain over
their actions.
The US was not mentioned in the
statement, but several of the leaders
criticised the Americans in comments
after the meeting.
"If this had happened to the president of
the United States, it probably would have
been grounds for war," said Ecuadorean
President Rafael Correa.
"They think they can attack, crush,
destroy international law."
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel
Garcia-Margallo said in a TV interview on
Friday that Madrid had "no reason to
He said airspace was never closed to Mr
Morales' plane, but that the delay in
Austria meant the flight permit had
expired and had to be renewed.
He also said in reference to Mr Snowden:
"They told us he was inside [the plane]."
Mr Garcia-Margallo's comment is the
first official recognition by the European
states that the incident with Mr Morales'
plane was connected with the Snowden
However, he did not say who had given
the information to the Spanish
France earlier apologised for the plane
incident, blaming it on "conflicting
The US state department has not
commented directly on the latest claims,
saying only that Washington had "been
in touch with a broad range of
countries" over the Snowden case.
Demonstrators marched on the French
embassy in La Paz on Wednesday,
burning the French flag and demanding
the expulsion of the ambassador to
Mr Morales' plane took off from Vienna
on Wednesday morning and arrived back
in La Paz on Wednesday night.