Plane of Syrian delegation delayed in Greece

Syrian state TV said the plane was ‘prevented from refueling’ after it landed in Athens

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A plane carrying the Syrian delegation to the Geneva peace talks was “prevented from refueling” after it landed at Athens airport, the state television reported.

The delegation’s plane landed at Athens international airport and was prevented from refueling,” Syrian television said, adding that all airspace permissions had previously been granted for the flight.

An official Syrian source confirmed to report to AFP. “The plane carrying the official Syrian delegation has been blocked for three hours at Athens airport because the Greek authorities refuse to provide it with fuel,” the source said.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman also confirmed that the plane had been temporarily detained but had now been cleared for take-off, although Greek air traffic controllers said the plane was still in Athens.

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras told Reuters: “The issue has been settled, there was a small delay over formalities.”

“Everything is OK, it has been cleared for take-off,” he added, without giving details on the reason for the delay.

The delay might force the cancellation of a planned meeting between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem - who was on the plane - and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, state TV said.

Negotiations between President Bashar al-Assad and opposition figures to try and end a three-year conflict are due to start on Wednesday in Switzerland following several days of disarray as world powers bickered over who would attend.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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