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HomeNewsPlane woes plague German foreign minister's Pacific trip – DW – 08/15/2023

Plane woes plague German foreign minister’s Pacific trip – DW – 08/15/2023

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A German government plane with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on board was forced to turn around after a second attempt to fly from Abu Dhabi to Australia failed early on Tuesday morning.

“Mission aborted! The error reappeared when the machine was now fully fueled. We are now landing in Abu Dhabi again,” wrote the official account of the German Air Force, Team Luftwaffe, on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The second attempt to take off for Australia took place around 1 a.m. local time (2100 UTC).

On Monday, Baerbock was already stuck for hours in Abu Dhabi after her plane encountered mechanical difficulties.

The German foreign minister was on her way to Australia to kick off a weeklong trip to the Pacific region, which would also see her hold talks in New Zealand and Fiji.

What are the issues with the plane?

After a stopover to refuel in Abu Dhabi on Monday, the flight carrying Baerbock and her delegation had to dump fuel and turn around.

A German Foreign Office spokesman Sebastian Fischer, who was on board, explained that “due to a mechanical problem, we have to return to Abu Dhabi for safety reasons. Options for further travel arrangements are currently being clarified.”

Shortly after take-off, the captain informed passengers that there were problems with the retraction of the landing flaps, according to reporters traveling with the minister.

Diplomacy interrupted 

It’s not the first time problems with planes have derailed German diplomacy.

In mid-May, Baerbock was stranded in Doha, Qatar, due to a flat tire on her government aircraft.

Last year she had to cancel a meeting with her British counterpart after her airplane was grounded in Ireland due to ice.

Baerbock’s first visit to Australia

During her inaugural visit to Australia, Baerbock plans to visit both the capital Canberra and the metropolis Sydney. A meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong is also planned in Sydney.

According to the German Foreign Office’s website, the main topics Baerbock intends to discuss with regional partners will be economic security, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and China’s role in the Indo-Pacific.

On Tuesday in Canberra, Baerbock was slated to take part in a ceremony for the return of cultural objects to representatives of the Indigenous Kaurna people at an institute for Aboriginal studies.

It remains to be seen whether she will be able to participate in the ceremony following the travel delays.

dh/lo,rs (dpa, AP, DW sources)

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

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