July 3, 2013 / 12:55 PM / 6 years ago

South American leaders to meet on Bolivian plane diversion

Bolivian presidential plane taxis to the runway before leaving the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

GENEVA (Reuters) - Latin American presidents plan an emergency meeting on Wednesday over the diversion to Austria of a plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations said.

The Bolivian plane, which was taking Morales home from Moscow, was stranded and searched in Vienna on suspicion that it might be carrying fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. A search determined that Snowden was not onboard and the plane eventually left Vienna about noon on Wednesday.

“We have been told that an emergency meeting of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) is going to be held today,” Sacha Llorenti Soliz told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday. No time for the meeting was mentioned.

“What’s at stake here is ... the dignity of Bolivia and the dignity of Latin America,” he said, adding that the presidents of Peru, Ecuador and Argentina had all spoken with Morales about the incident.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told a news conference in Geneva that he had not received any request for such a meeting.

Bolivia accused Austria of “kidnapping” Morales by forcing him to land in Vienna on suspicion that his plane was carrying Snowden to Latin America.

Reporting by Emma Farge and Tom Miles; editing by Mark Heinrich

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