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Second US diplomat is expelled in aid spat

Latest update : 2009-02-19

Ecuador has ordered the expulsion of a US diplomat it accuses of meddling in its internal affairs. Foreign Minister Fander Falconi (pictured), gave him 48 hours to leave the country. He is the second US diplomat to be expelled this month.

AFP - The United States said Wednesday it regretted Ecuador's "unjustified" expulsion of a US diplomat, rejecting accusations that he had meddled in the country's internal affairs.
  
In announcing the expulsion, Ecuador's Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said Marc Sullivan, the embassy's first secretary, had 48 hours to get out of the country.
  
He was the second US diplomat to be expelled this month in a row over a US-funded counter-narcotics program.
  
"We regret this decision by the government of Ecuador. We also reject any suggestion of wrongdoing by embassy staff," said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid.
  
"Despite the government of Ecuador's unjustified action, we remain committed to working collaboratively with Ecuador to confront narcotics trafficking," he said.
  
Asked about possible retaliatory action, Duguid said, "We will respond as appropriate."
  
On February 7, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa ordered the expulsion of Armando Astorga, the US charge for immigration issues, security and customs.
  
The socialist president accused Astorga of trying to dictate the Ecuadoran police's choice of a commander for an anti-smuggling unit in return for 340,000 dollars in US aid.
  
The Ecuadoran government accused Sullivan of trying to do the same thing.
  
"Following the Astorga affair, Sullivan also placed conditions on logistics cooperation with the police," Falconi said.
  
A US State Department official confirmed that the dispute was over a counter-narcotics training program funded by the United States.
  
"The United States does have procedures that require it to vet candidates for US funded training. In somes countries, this is seen as onerous. However, it is part of the legal accountability measures that we have to follow," the official said.
  
"They are reacting to the fact of us following our procedures. They don't agree with us," he said.
  
The official would not comment on which Ecuadoran candidates had been rejected by the United States.
  

Date created : 2009-02-19

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