ROME (Dispatches) – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has summoned the UAE ambassador in Rome over a Boeing 767 overflight ban.
“On the instructions of Minister Luigi Di Maio, the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ettore Sequi, has summoned today the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Omar al-Shamsi, to the Foreign Ministry. The Secretary General has expressed to the Ambassador his surprise and great disappointment for an unexpected gesture that is hard to understand,” the ministry said in a statement.
The development came after the oil-rich state banned the overflight of Italian Air Force Boeing 767 jet carrying nearly 40 journalists en route to a military ceremony in the Afghan city of Herat, where Italy’s Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini had arrived earlier to take part in a flag-lowering ceremony at the country’s military base there.
According to the Italian foreign ministry statement, after Abu Dhabi’s refusal to allow the use of its airspace, its jetliner was forced to land in the Saudi Arabian city of Dammam, where it flew off for Herat “using a route further north” after a few hours.
Diplomatic ties between Rome and Abu Dhabi deteriorated after the Italian government’s decision to impose an arms embargo on the UAE due to its military aggression against Yemen – in partnership with the Saudi regime – and the massive bombardment of its civilian areas.