Paris summons Russia ambassador over 'false' aviation claim

Paris summons Russia ambassador over 'false' aviation claim

Paris (AFP) - France's foreign ministry summoned Russia's ambassador Tuesday after Moscow mistakenly accused a French military jet of flying "dangerously close" to a plane carrying a parliamentary delegation, a spokesman said.

Switzerland later admitted that it was one of its warplanes that had approached the Russian aircraft and Moscow has lodged an official complaint with the Swiss ambassador to Russia.

French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said that one of its officials, Christian Masset, summoned Russian ambassador Alexander Orlov over the accusation which has caused a diplomatic spat between Moscow and Paris.

"He told him that no French military plane was involved as the Russian foreign ministry mistakenly claimed," said Nadal.

Masset also "condemned the fact that our ambassador to Moscow was summoned ... on the basis of this false information," Nadal added.

Russia's red-faced foreign ministry admitted its error and apologised to France over the incident, a ministry source said Monday.

The ministry then switched its fire to Switzerland on Tuesday by making an official complaint to the Swiss envoy in Moscow.

The ministry said it had "lodged a decisive protest" after an F/A18 jet belonging to the Swiss airforce made a "dangerous approach" to a plane carrying the Russian parliamentary delegation to Geneva.

The ministry said the incident could not be explained away as part of "standard procedures" and Switzerland should have warned Russia of the manoeuvre.