BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: As Argentina accuses the U.S. of trying to smuggle equipment, including weapons and surveillance equipment, into the country, the U.S. described the situation as 'serious,' local media reported on Tuesday.
Last week, a U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft arrived in the South American country for a U.S.-backed training course for Argentina's Federal Police Special Operations Squad, but diplomatic disputes have gone back and forth after the cargo was seized in Buenos Aires' Ezeiza international airport.
According to reports, the aircraft contained items that had not been submitted by previous approved documents. However, U.S. officials have insisted that all material within the cargo are for the training course.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs Frank Mora said all of the material in the aircraft were communication equipment and weapons for the training, urging authorities to return them immediately, the Buenos Aires Herald reported.
"The ties between the U.S. and Argentina are very strong, and we can solve this matter by bringing back dialogue and looking for other collaboration methods," Mora stated. "Even though it is a serious incident, it can easily be resolved."
Previously, Matthew Rooney, U.S. economic and commercial officer for the State Department, said that there may have been some "paper problems," but said they were all discrepancies that could be cleared out, as there was "no intention to bring improper stuff into the country."
Argentina's Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez, meanwhile, defended local authorities, saying that if the incident would have been the other way around, and "our military members were the ones trying to bring undeclared weapons, GPS devices, and drugs into the US, they would have all ended jailed in Guantanamo Bay."
Fernandez explained that a list of approved material for the training course had been clarified last December, but when the shipment arrived, numerous undeclared items were found, including equipment for intercepting communications, various sophisticated and powerful GPS devices, technological elements containing codes labeled secret and a trunk full of expired medicine.
The cabinet chief also clarified that only the undeclared items were seized, as it is "the country's legit right to check what's brought in."
(BNO NEWS )