French President Francois Hollande expressed “regret” on Wednesday over the delay in granting permission to the Bolivian president to use France’s airspace on Tuesday.
The French Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, saying that it was sorry over the airspace blockade to President Morales’s jet.
“The foreign minister called his Bolivian counterpart to tell him about France’s regrets after the incident caused by the late confirmation of permission for President Morales’s plane to fly over (French) territory,” said ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot.
Bolivia said that France, Spain, Portugal and Italy had refused to allow Morales’s plane, which was flying to La Paz from Moscow, to cross their airspace on suspicion of transporting US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Morales’s plane was forced to land in Austria en route to Bolivia. The aircraft then left Vienna after a stopover of more than 12 hours.
The incident sparked international condemnation and was likened by Morales to a “13-hour kidnapping”.
Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN Sacha Llorenti told reporters in Geneva that the decisions of the European countries on blocking Morales’ plane violated the “international law.”
He added that the diversion was an “act of aggression” against his country, and was equal to “kidnapping” the Bolivian president.