London: Ecuador is still willing to negotiate with the British government over the fate of Julian Assange, despite the Foreign Office's ‘threat’ to raid its embassy in London and arrest the WikiLeaks founder, a senior diplomatic source has revealed.
Ecuador’s decision to grant political asylum to Assange, who faces allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, has provoked a bitter political row between Quito and London.
British authorities have threatened to use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 to arrest Assange inside the embassy building in Knightsbridge.
According to the Guardian, the Ecuadorian diplomatic source, however, said that Quito had been encouraged by a phone call made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ecuadorean ambassador on Thursday.
“The FCO called the ambassador yesterday to confirm that it still had the will to talk and negotiate, so we'll keep talking," the paper quoted the source, as saying.
“The fact that they called the ambassador makes us think that the letter with the threat of using domestic legislation to make an incursion into the embassy and arrest somebody inside was a mistake, as was the intimidating increase in the number of police surrounding the embassy on the same day the letter was delivered,” he added.
The source stressed that Ecuador was willing to co-operate with the British and Swedish authorities over the matter of Assange's extradition to Sweden.
“In the negotiations with the FCO, Ecuador has been proposing that we would be prepared to accept an undertaking from the UK and Sweden that, once Julian Assange has faced the Swedish investigation, he will not be extradited to a third country: specifically the US,” he said.
“That might be a way out of it and Ecuador has always said it does not want to interfere with the Swedish judicial process; we could facilitate it,” he added.
First Published: Saturday, August 18, 2012, 23:44