Foreign minister meets Venezuelan counterpart after TAP flights ban

O ministro de Estado e dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Augusto Santos Silva, discursa durante a abertura do

O ministro de Estado e dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Augusto Santos Silva, discursa durante a abertura do seminário "Cooperação, Cultura e Língua", na Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, em Lisboa, 08 de janeiro de 2020. TIAGO PETINGA/LUSA

  |  LUSA

Portugal"s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, has had a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, a week after the government in Caracas suspended flights by Portugal"s national airline, TAP.

The reference to Monday"s meeting, in Geneva, Switzerland, was posted on Twitter by Venezuela"s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, though without giving further details.

It comes a week after the government of Venezuela led by Nicolás Maduro suspended TAP operations in his country for 90 days, after alleging that the airline had permitted the transporting of explosives on a Lisbon-Caracas flight on which Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, was travelling.

According to Venezuelan state television channel VTV, the two ministers "talked about issues of interest to both nations" and both "reiterated their willingness to continue working to consolidate bilateral relations."

VTV said that the meeting took place on the sidelines of a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland.

On 17 February, Hipólito Abreu, Venezuela's minister of transportation, announced that the government was suspending TAP operations for 90 days "for security reasons", citing "serious irregularities committed on flight TP173." As well as allegedly allowing the transport of explosives - in the form of "tactical pocket torches" carried by Guaidó"s uncle, Juan Marquez, that Abreu said concealed "explosive chemicals in the battery compartment, TAP also allegedly allowed Guaidó himself to travel under a false identity.

Portugal"s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, reacted by describing the move as "unfriendly" and "unjustified.

Portugal"s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, also described the suspension as unfair, unacceptable and incomprehensible.

TAP itself reacted by stating that it "does not understand" why flights were suspended, saying that the move was a "serious measure" that harms passengers.

Meanwhile, a report by Portuguese security inspectors have cleared TAP and Lisbon airport of violating any security rules in the case of the flight to Venezuela, according to the minister of internal administration, Eduardo Cabrita, who told Portuguese public broadcaster RTP that the findings were "very clear".