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Germany Calls Iran’s Blocking of Merkel Flight ‘Unacceptable’

The German government called Iran’s decision to block Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plane from entering Iranian airspace en route to India “completely unacceptable” and summoned the country’s ambassador in Berlin.

Merkel’s plane, a new Airbus A340 with a full delegation, was forced to circle over Turkish territory for about two hours early today after Iran initially refused to let it enter the country. There was no explanation as to why the government in Tehran blocked entry after it had previously granted overflight permission, the German government said.

“This is a lack of respect toward Germany that we will not accept,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an e-mailed statement. The ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador in Berlin, Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, to deliver Germany’s complaint with “great clarity.”

Merkel and her delegation eventually made their way over Iran to India, where the chancellor is meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after Germany and Iran undertook “intensive diplomatic intervention,” the German government said. Merkel and executives from companies such as Siemens AG (SIE) and ThyssenKrupp AG (TKA) are in India seeking to boost trade.

Germany has long joined the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China -- in calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment. Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy use.

The aircraft was headed toward the border when the Iranian government said it didn’t have permission to fly over, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported. The Turkish government mediated in the diplomatic back-and-forth, DPA said.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” DPA quoted Merkel as saying. “The pilots haven’t, either.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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