Britain eases tensions over Julian Assange with pledge not to enter embassy
The Foreign Office has said it remained committed to reaching a diplomatic solution to the presence of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy, as steps were taken to defuse a row over his action in taking refuge there.
Assange has been living in the embassy’s cramped quarters for more than two months since fleeing to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
The South American state’s leader said on Saturday that Britain had withdrawn a threat to enter the embassy to arrest Assange, to whom Ecuador has granted asylum, and he now considered the “unfortunate incident” was over.
President Rafael Correa was responding to an assurance that Britain was not threatening the embassy and was committed to the Vienna Convention, which protects the inviolability of diplomatic premises.
“We remain committed to the process of dialogue we have entered into, and we want that to resume with the government of Ecuador,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
There was anger from some Latin American states after Britain said that, under extreme circumstances, it could remove the embassy’s diplomatic status, exposing Assange to immediate arrest by police.
Ecuador accused the UK of planning to storm the embassy and demanded it withdraw the threat.
Britain said it had not meant to threaten Ecuador, prompting it to send a formal communication on Thursday confirming the embassy was safe.
The communication was copied to diplomats at a meeting of the Organisation of American States in Washington on Friday.
A British diplomat attending the meeting invited Ecuador to resume “constructive discussions” on Assange, the Foreign Office said.
Britain says it is determined to fulfil a legal obligation to send Assange to Sweden. Mr Correa says he shares Assange’s fears that if handed over to Sweden, he might be extradited to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks’ publication of secret US documents.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West