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Swiss-bound Syrian group delayed by Greeks

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17:34 CET+01:00
A plane carrying the Syrian delegation to crucial peace talks in Switzerland was blocked in Athens for several hours on Tuesday, officials said.

An official Syrian source told AFP the plane had departed after being held for about five hours.
   
The source said Greek authorities had been refusing to refuel the plane, while a Greek civil aviation spokesman said it was being inspected and that a flight plan had not been submitted.
   
Syrian state television said the delay could lead to the cancellation of meetings, including one between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
   
The Syrian source said the plane had been blocked "because the Greek authorities refuse to provide it with fuel".
   
It was not immediately clear why the plane would have needed to stop in Athens for refuelling.
   
In Athens, a civil aviation spokesman confirmed to AFP that the plane had been blocked. Foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said it was a "procedural" matter.
   
Greece's ANA news agency reported that authorities were following inspection procedures required for countries facing international embargoes, such as Syria.

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