German minister’s plane diverted from Djibouti due to lack of permit

(Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday her government plane had to make an unplanned stopover in Saudi Arabia on the way to a visit to Djibouti as it lacked a permit to fly over Eritrea.

Djibouti was the first stop of Baerbock’s three-day trip to East Africa, where she is scheduled to hold talks on the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Kenya and South Sudan are the next destinations on the agenda.

In a statement, Baerbock said the unplanned stop was a reflection of overall instability in the region because nearby countries Sudan and Yemen could not be used as flyover routes because of armed conflicts there.

She added she had planned to convey a message in Djibouti that Germany and the European Union were working on ways to protect Red Sea shipping routes from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia.

“This is a protective mission for ships in the region, and that means such a defensive mission by the Europeans, should it be agreed, would not constitute attacks on Yemen,” she said.

Last August Baerbock’s planned week-long trip to the Indo-Pacific region had to be cancelled due to repeated mechanical issues with her government plane.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz, Writing by Linda Pasquini and Ludwig Burger; editing by Matthias Williams and Ros Russell)