07:45 GMT +315 November 2018
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    Swiss MoD Denies Military Jet Narrowly Avoided Collision With Russian Plane

    © AFP 2018 / TT NEWS AGENCY / SUSANNE LINDHOLM
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    The Swiss Ministry of Defense has denied Monday that its military jet had narrowly avoided collision with an airliner carrying Russian lawmakers in the French airspace.

    Switzerland confirmed that its F/A-18 military aircraft had neared a plane with the Russian parliamentary delegation on board, but said that it had been performing standard verification procesures, Swiss Federal Department on Defense, Civil Defense and Sport spokesman Peter Minder told RIA Novosti.

    Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador in Moscow over a dangerous aviation incident involving what it believed was a French military jet and a plane carrying Russian lawmakers. However, Paris said later that the aircraft belonged to Switzerland.

    Member of the Russian delegation Sergei Gavrilov told Sputnik that the jet had been maneuvering dangerously close to the plane of the Russian delegation.

    "For us it was an absolutely normal act. It was the Swiss F/A-18 [jet] which departed from Biel at 10:20. It checked the tale numbers of the Russian aircraft bound for Geneva. This is standard procedure and there was no 'dangerous proximity'," Minder said.

    Minder said that such checks were carried out hundreds of times a year. The Swiss Armed Forces decide to selectively check diplomatic flights as well, including from Russia, the US and France adding that Switzerland had known that the Russian airliner had a diplomatic status.

    The Russian delegation, led by Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, was heading to the Swiss city of Geneva to participate in the 133rd assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

    Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the information on the aviation incident had been received from the Russian plane's pilot.

    "We have received the information from the [Russian plane's] pilot that it had been the French Air Force aircraft. We started to check this information and summoned the French ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. It is a standard procedure in such cases because we are talking about a parliamentary delegation headed by the the State Duma head [Naryshkin], which was going to attend an official event. It took the ambassador some time to clarify the circumstances," the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Rossiya-24 TV channel.

    Moscow hopes that the reasons of the incident would be "explained in details via French and Swiss diplomatic channels," Zakharova said.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry is trying to "very quickly respond to everything that happens" to avoid provocations as "there are a lot of smear campaigns, leaks, references to unnamed sources, so every time we try to figure it out," she said.

    Sergei Naryshkin said that he was sure Russia and Switzerland would clarify the issue, however, the incident "was unpleasant."

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    Maria Zakharova, Sergei Naryshkin, Russia, France, Switzerland
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