Syrian government wanted Qatari A340 as state jet: cable

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Syria's government had been looking to secure a Qatari Airbus A340-300 as a presidential jet, leaked diplomatic cables have revealed.

A document dated February 2010, originating from the US embassy in Damascus, stated that the Syrian government had been "unable to take delivery" because handing over the Airbus would violate US sanctions.

It identified the aircraft involved as bearing registration A7-AAH, a nine-year old jet previously operated by Singapore Airlines, China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines before it was refitted as a VIP aircraft for Qatar's government.

Cables publicly disclosed by the Wikileaks organisation mention a meeting involving the Syrian foreign minister's chief of staff, during which the aircraft was mentioned as having been offered as a gift to Syria.

While the Syrian government was "ever hopeful" of obtaining a "Syrian Air Force One" for its president, said the cable, it had been informed that the age of the aircraft did not make any difference to the sanction restriction.