German government to ask Rice to explain CIA flights

Germany has a list of more than 400 overflights and landings by planes suspected of being used by the CIA that it plans to ask U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about when she visits Berlin, a government spokesman said Monday. Ulrich Wilhelm confirmed a weekend report in Der Spiegel magazine that the list, drawn up by air traffic control, showed at least 437 flights passed over or through Germany. The issue would be addressed with Rice when she meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, Wilhelm told reporters.

Wilhelm said Germany had several "concrete questions" to ask about the list, but would not elaborate. When news of the list surfaced at the weekend, a government spokesman noted that U.S.-operated flights as such are not unusual under NATO agreements. He noted that a list of aircraft movements would not detail the purpose of such flights or who ordered them.

Allegations that the CIA ran prisons for al-Qaida captives in Eastern Europe and operated clandestine flights for prisoners, using airports in Germany and elsewhere, have cast a new shadow over relations between Europe and the United States.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier raised the issue with Rice during a visit to Washington on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Merkel told parliament she was confident "that the American government is taking European concerns seriously and in the near future will clear up the recent reports on apparent CIA prisons and illegal flights,” reports the AP. I.L.

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