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OAS urges Ecuador, Britain to end row peacefully

08-25-2012 08:55 BJT

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday threw its weight behind Ecuador by affirming the inviolability of its diplomatic premises, but urged the country to resolve peacefully its diplomatic row with Britain over Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks website.

After hours of deliberations at the OAS headquarters in Washington D.C., the foreign ministers and representatives of the 34-member regional bloc adopted a resolution stating that it rejected "any attempt that might put at risk the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions."

The organization expressed its "solidarity and support for the government of the Republic of Ecuador," reiterating the obligation of all states "not to invoke provisions of their domestic law to justify noncompliance with their international obligations."

Ecuador said it received an aide-memoire on Aug. 15 from Britain stating "that there are legal grounds in the United Kingdom -- the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987 -- that would allow us to take steps to arrest Mr. Assange on the embassy's current premises."

Assange jumped bail on June 19 by taking refugee in Ecuador's embassy in London, arguing that his extradition to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses against two women there could land him in the United States to face persecution and long-term imprisonment.

The 41-year-old Australian enraged Washington by releasing through his whistleblower website in 2010 tranches of war documents relating to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as hundreds of thousands of sometimes embarrassing diplomatic cables.

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum on Aug. 16, as the country's President Rafael Correa argued that Sweden would not offer assurances that it would not extradite the man to the U.S. and that he could face the sentence of life in prison or even death penalty by Washington.

The move sparked a diplomatic standoff between Ecuador and Britain, with the latter vowing not to let Assange have a safe passage out of the country. Most Latin American countries have voiced support for their neighbor.

In its resolution, the OAS urged the two nations "to continue to engage in dialogue in order to settle their current differences in accordance with international law, taking into account the statements made recently by authorities of both governments."

Both Britain and Ecuador have expressed their readiness to settle the dispute through dialogue in recent days.

The U.S. and Canada, which opposed the OAS's involvement in the row, expressed their reservations about the resolution by adding in footnotes.

Washington has not publicly asked for Assange's extradition and denied his assertion that it had launched a witch-hunt against him, calling the stalemate a matter among Britain, Ecuador and Sweden.

However, Washington's "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army Private First Class who is being tried by a military court for alleged leaking of secret information to the WikiLeaks, has been cited time and again by Assange and his supporters.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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