Maduro scraps UN visit over 'threats to his life'
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he had scrapped his plan to take part in the UN General Assembly in New York to "protect my life" after purported threats on it.
Maduro, who has just made an official visit to China, said on Wednesday that on a layover in Vancouver he received intelligence on what he said were "two highly serious provocations" which prompted him to scrap his UN trip.
"When I got into Vancouver I evaluated the intelligence which we received from several sources. I decided then and there to continue back to Caracas and drop the New York trip to protect a key goal: safeguarding my physical integrity, protecting my life," Maduro told local media.
One of the alleged provocations "had been planned against my physical integrity" and another could have involved violence in New York, the leading face of Latin America's left charged.
Maduro also claimed the US "knew of these provocations" and that US President Barack Obama was going to allow them "to take place under his own nose." He said Foreign Minister Elias Juau was attending the summit in his place.
Venezuela is the region's closest ally of communist Cuba, which regularly has accused US conservatives of plotting against its leaders, leftist policies and governments.
Maduro earlier this month claimed the White House was plotting the "collapse" of his government next month by sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies.
Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, also made regular claims about alleged US plots to kill him.
Separately, Venezuela said it would be filing a suit against Airbus after Caracas sent its presidential jet to France for routine maintenance and when it was returned found what Maduro alleges was serious damage to a wing.
"We are preparing legal action against the European manufacturer for that problem," Maduro said in a speech.
Maduro, who took Venezuela's helm on April 19, usually flies in a jet with Cubana de Aviacion markings.
Maduro said on Wednesday that he would no longer use the Airbus jet following the incident.
"I have called in local experts to do a report. They are working on it and asking Airbus to explain why the presidential jet has a defect if it was just in the shop for five months," Maduro said.
He called the incident very serious.