German Chancellor Angela Merkel's flight to India was delayed for two hours when Iran's government refused the plane permission to fly over the country. The Iranian move forced Merkel's plane to circle over Turkey for about two hours on Tuesday morning before the plane was eventually allowed to fly over Iran. Germany summoned the Iranian ambassador in Berlin to protest "the breach of international protocol." The reason for the temporary refusal to pass through the airspace is unknown [AP, 31 May].
Photo: The new German government Airbus A340 Konrad Adenauer, Germany's equivalent to Air Force One. Merkel was on her first trip aboard the plane. AP Photo
UPDATE: Kayhan, the influential conservative daily published in Tehran, has offered reasons for the government’s decision to force Chancellor Merkel's plane to fly over Turkish airspace for nearly two hours before given permission to pass through Iran:
“In a show of strength, the Islamic Republic of Iran refused permission to supporters of terrorism to pass over the Iranian territory… Ms. Merkel was kept wandering over an area near the border where she had tried to keep it insecure with the help of the terrorist group PJAK.”
“German support of terrorist groups does not end with PJAK. The (Germans) throughout the years have supported the terrorist Monfegh group (Mojahedeen Khalgh Organization)… Members of the German Bundestag have even invited the group’s leader (Maryam Rajavi) to address the parliament. During her speech, Maryam Rajavi called for sanctions against Iran’s oil and gasoline.” [Kayhan, 31 May].