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Saudi Flight Raises U.S. Suspicions

The World

August 28, 2002|From Associated Press

CRAWFORD, Texas — A plane chartered by the Saudi government for a meeting in Texas between President Bush and the kingdom's ambassador was escorted by fighter jets to a Colorado airport after controllers raised suspicions about the flight.

Administration officials said Prince Bandar ibn Sultan was not on the plane.

A U.S. transportation official said the Airbus 310 cleared customs in Maine and was in the air Monday when controllers raised concerns because it left 12 hours before it was scheduled to.

Controllers contacted the Transportation Safety Administration, and two F-16s were scrambled to escort the plane to Grand Junction, Colo., where security and immigration agents briefly talked with the passengers.

The ambassador owns a home in nearby Aspen. The plane picked up several of the prince's children, who joined him for his meeting with Bush in Texas on Tuesday.

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