Iran: Merkel's flight delay technical error
A technical glitch was behind the delay of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's flight to India as it flew over Iran, Iranian Ambassador to Berlin Alireza Sheikh-Attar said, Press TV reported.
"When I asked Iranian aviation authorities, I was told that the so-called call signal that pilots usually give to (air traffic control) towers as a code for entering was a false one. It was actually for return route not for entry. Because of this mistake they could not enter," Sheikh-Attar told.
The Iranian envoy also dismissed reports that "political" intentions had triggered the issue. "This type of events happen sometimes in many countries. Maybe certain media [outlets] want to intensify the situation between Iran and West," he pointed out.
Sheikh-Attar, who was immediately summoned to the German foreign ministry following the incident, emphasized that the problem with the erroneous call signal broadcast by Merkel's plane was resolved in 20 minutes and the German chancellor was able to continue her flight to India.
On Tuesday, Berlin claimed that Chancellor Merkel's plane was forced to circle over Turkey for about two hours en route to India after Iran closed its airspace to the aircraft.
German officials on board had attributed the delay to "coordination problems."
However, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast strongly rejected the allegations.
"The permission required for the passage of the airplane carrying Mrs. Merkel through the airspace of the Islamic Republic of Iran had been issued in time," Mehmanparast said.
He added that the German Embassy in Tehran had been informed about the authorization granted to the aircraft.
"The problem regarding the delay experienced by the flight in question in crossing the airspace of the Islamic Republic of Iran was prompted by a technical glitch that was immediately resolved, enabling the plane to continue on its course," the Iranian official explained.