- Written by Ian Wafula
- Security correspondent, BBC News, Nairobi
Somalia rejected a plane carrying officials from Ethiopia to the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, in a major escalation of the diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
The Somali Minister of Information told the BBC that the plane did not obtain permission to enter the country's airspace.
Ethiopian officials were visiting Somaliland to discuss the deal, which sparked a major dispute.
Somalia considers Somaliland part of its territory.
The agreement, signed on January 1, would allow Somaliland to lease one of its ports to Ethiopia in exchange for a stake in Ethiopian Airlines and possible recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state.
The Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said on Wednesday that flight ETH8273 violated international rules that stipulate that flights must obtain permission from the countries they pass through.
The plane had attempted to land at Hargeisa Airport in Somaliland.
SCAA said that despite this incident, regular flights between the two countries are operating as usual.
The Ethiopian government has not yet commented, but the head of Ethiopian Airlines confirmed that the plane in question had returned to the country's capital, Addis Ababa.
Somaliland, a former British protectorate that declared independence from Somalia in 1991, has all the trappings of a state, including regular elections, a police force and its own currency.
But this has not been recognized by any country.
By ordering the Ethiopian plane to leave its airspace, Somalia is sending a strong message that Somaliland is not an independent country.
Amid the dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia, both the United States and the African Union supported Somalia's territorial integrity and urged all parties to calm tensions.
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