Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Argentine government is moving to lodge an official protest to Washington following the seizure of undeclared weapons and drugs aboard a US military plane.

Argentina plans to formally protest to the United States and call for assistance in investigations into the US Air Force's attempt "to violate Argentine laws by bringing in hidden material in an official shipment,” said a statement released by Argentine Foreign Ministry late Sunday, AFP reported.

On Thursday, Argentine customs officials searched a US Air Force C-17 transport plane at Ministro Pistarini International Airport, located 22 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires.

Aboard the plane the officers discovered an illicit cargo which had not been declared in a manifest submitted by the US embassy to Argentine authorities. 

"Assistant US Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela called Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman about the matter on Saturday. He, however, refused to explain why they tried to pass this material," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the United States said it was "disturbed" by the seizure made by Argentine officials and urged Buenos Aires to send it back.

"We are disturbed it was handled in this way," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington on Monday. "We continue to call on the Argentine government to return our equipment.”

According to the ministry, the illegal material seized on the US aircraft ranges from weapons to different drugs. source

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