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Explanation sought in airspace violation

CARACAS — Venezuela wants the U.S. ambassador to explain a violation of its airspace by a U.S. Navy plane.

The plane was detected in Venezuelan airspace Saturday night near the Caribbean island of La Orchila and questioned by the Caracas airport control tower, Defense Minister Gen. Gustavo Rangel Briceno said.

The Navy S-3 Viking, used for counternarcotics missions, might have crossed accidentally into Venezuela’s airspace while experiencing “intermittent navigational problems” on a training mission in international airspace, a U.S. defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

The Navy crew is based in Curacao and had some language problems during the three-minute radio conversation, the official said.

“They promptly responded and identified themselves as U.S. Navy, on a training mission in international airspace, and that a navigational error had possibly occurred,” the official said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports