The German news agency DPA reported late on Thursday that the government Airbus, which was en route to Buenos Aires, turned around over the Netherlands about an hour into the flight.
It says the aircraft landed safely in Cologne in western Germany. It says a replacement German air force plane is being prepared to carry Merkel and her entourage to the G20 summit which starts Friday.
According to German military blog Augengeradeaus.net, the aircraft was transmitting a 7600 transponder code, indicating a radio failure.
The G20 meeting in Buenos Aires comes amid growing economic uncertainty and global displeasure with Donald Trump’s trade policy.
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