Venezuela's Maduro mulls legal move against Airbus over fault in presidential jet

Reuters
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a meeting with South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Caracas
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a meeting with South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane …

By Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday said he was preparing legal action against Airbus due to a "serious fault" in his presidential jet following maintenance.

Maduro said he had been concerned about flying in the plane after it returned from five months of work by Airbus, and ordered his own technicians to carry out an inspection.

"After 10 or 12 days, a serious fault appeared in one of the wings of the plane. After five months at Airbus in France - my God!" Maduro said during a lived televised broadcast.

"With the help of an international law firm, we're preparing legal actions against Airbus of France."

Airbus was not immediately available for comment.

Maduro last week was briefly denied access to U.S. airspace on his way to China, which he described as an example of "U.S. aggression" against his socialist government.

U.S. authorities, who later approved his travel plan, said he had not been traveling in a state aircraft, which was required for diplomatic clearance. Maduro went in a Cuban plane.

Maduro had been scheduled to visit New York for the United Nations General Assembly, but called it off due to what he called "provocations" that constituted a threat to his security.

"One of the provocations could have led to a situation of violence in New York ... and the other was designed to affect my physical integrity," he said on Wednesday, declining to provide further details.

He cited the involvement of former U.S. government officials Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, both of whom he has frequently accused of plotting against his government. The two have denied those accusations.

Since winning an April election to replace late Socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro has been constantly alleging plots against him ranging from several assassination plots to alleged Washington-backed plans to create shortages of consumer goods.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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