April 8, 2007, RFE/RL -- A senior adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has confirmed reports that Iran refused to allow a plane carrying al-Maliki to cross its airspace overnight on a trip to Japan.
The refusal reportedly forced the aircraft to make an unplanned stop in Dubai to file a new flight plan.
Japanese officials confirmed that al-Maliki's arrival had been delayed and that they expected him to arrive for his first tour to Japan and South Korea tonight rather than in the early afternoon.
Al-Maliki's adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, said the plane entered Iranian airspace on the evening of April 7 and "suddenly" received an order by Iranian aviation authorities to go back.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that as a technicality, all flights over Iranian territory require prior authorisation. But he did not explicitly say that Iran had not allowed al-Maliki's plane to overfly its territory.
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