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Spain prepares new flights to Guayaquil, Ecuador to airlift citizens

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez attends a European Union Foreign Ministers council in Brussels, Belgium, January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said on Friday her administration is preparing new flights to Guayaquil, Ecuador, where the local mayor on Thursday ordered trucks on to the runway to prevent a plane from landing.

Following the unusual incident, the European Union asked Ecuador to guarantee access to its airports to ensure it can airlift citizens out of the South American nation.

The Iberia flight which was unable to land was planning to repatriate 190 EU citizens.

Gonzalez, speaking on radio station COPE, said she discussed the situation with the Ecuadorean foreign minister and her services are now planning to send planes to Ecuador on Saturday to repatriate EU citizens.

Separately, Gonzalez reiterated her administration is taking care of its citizens overseas, repatriating some of them, and urging the majority to stay where they are if they are safe.

Reporting by Inti Landauro