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Venezuela Protests to US Over Alleged Violation of Airspace

Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly VersionSend to a FriendSend to a FriendVenezuela has sent a formal letter of protest to the United States, alleging a U.S. military plane violated Venezuelan airspace last week after taking off from the nearby Netherlands Antilles.  The Venezuelan government Monday presented the formal protest to U.S. diplomats in Caracas.  The U.S. denies the accusation. Late last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept what he said was a U.S. P-3 aircraft over his country.  He said the American plane twice entered his country's airspace from the Netherlands Antilles. Washington has said the U.S. does not fly over another nation's airspace "without prior consent and coordination." In December, President Chavez accused the Netherlands of allowing the U.S. to use the Dutch-owned islands off the Venezuelan coast to prepare for an attack on his country.  The U.S. has called that assertion "baseless." The United States has long had a military presence on the islands of Aruba and Curacao, with staff involved in drug surveillance operations over the Caribbean. Separately, President Chavez has accused the U.S. of launching a spy plane from Colombia into Venezuelan airspace last month.  He vowed then to shoot down any such aircraft in the future. Venezuela and Colombia have been at odds over an agreement allowing the U.S. to use seven Colombian military bases for anti-drug operations. President Chavez has called the deal a threat to his country, but the U.S. and Colombia say their agreement is aimed at anti-drug operations and does not pertain to other nations.