US expels Ecuadorian ambassador in diplomatic tit-for-tat
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The United States ordered the Ecuadorian ambassador out of the country Thursday. The move is seen as retaliation for the expulsion of the US's own ambassador Heather Hodges (pictured) from Ecuador over the leak of a diplomatic cable.
AFP - The United States on Thursday ordered the expulsion of Ecuador's ambassador to Washington in a tit-for-tat move after the US envoy to Quito was told to leave over a leaked diplomatic cable.
Ambassador Luis Gallegos was summoned to the State Department which declared him persona non grata and asked him to leave the United States as soon as possible, a State Department spokesman, Charles Luoma-Overstreet, told AFP.
Ecuador on Tuesday ordered US Ambassador Heather Hodges out of the country in a row over a leaked diplomatic cable which quoted her as saying President Rafael Correa knowingly appointed a corrupt chief of police.
"The unjustified action of the Ecuadorian government in declaring Ambassador Hodges persona non grata left us no other option than this reciprocal action," Luoma-Overstreet said in an email.
"Ambassador Hodges is one of our most experienced and talented diplomats," he said.
The United States is "also suspending suspending the bilateral dialogue, which had been scheduled for June," he said.
Luoma-Overstreet said Washington "is interested in a positive relationship with Ecuador, but the regrettable and unwarranted decision to declare Ambassador Hodges persona non grata will have to be taken into account going forward."
The row comes nearly a year after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Ecuador's leftist Correa in Quito as part of efforts to drive a wedge between him and Venezuela's anti-American firebrand Hugo Chavez.
Clinton said during her visit that Washington was "committed to a partnership of open dialogue and cooperation."
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