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Maduro calls Argentine’s Milei ‘bandit’ after US 'stole' Venezuelan plane

The Boeing 747-300 belonging to Venezuela's Emtrasur cargo airline at the international airport in Cordoba, Argentina, on June 6, 2022, before taking off for Buenos Aires. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has slammed his Argentinian counterpart Javier Milei over the US seizure of a Venezuelan cargo plane grounded in Buenos Aires.

"They stole our plane... Milei the bandit stole the plane from Venezuela. Javier Milei, the hero of the extreme right," Maduro said in a televised statement on Thursday. "He acts crazy or he is crazy or both at the same time."

The Boeing 747-300 cargo plane was transferred to the US on Sunday after being grounded at the Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Ezeiza for 20 months.

The US said the American-built plane was previously sold by the Iranian airline Mahan Air to a sanctioned Venezuelan state airline Emtrasur in violation of American export control laws.

Mahan Air “violated our export restrictions by selling this airplane to a Venezuelan cargo airline. Now, it's property of the United States government," Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary of export enforcement, claimed.

According to the US Justice Department, the Venezuelan-flagged plane, which had arrived in Florida, would be disposed of.

Venezuela's foreign ministry has vowed that it would "take all actions" to have the plane returned to its "legitimate owner."

On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kan’ani condemned in the strongest terms Washington’s “illegal seizure” of the cargo plane as a “hijacking” act committed “as the result of unilateral coercive measures from the United States.”

Kan’ani also said what Washington had committed “is in violation of the basic principles of the UN Charter and international law.”

The Islamic Republic strongly supports Venezuela’s legal and diplomatic efforts to restore ownership of its assets illegally confiscated by the US, the Iranian official stated.

The seizure took place as Maduro was on a trip to Iran on June 10, 2022. He was in the Islamic Republic to announce a 20-year deal with Iran.

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