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Ecuador opts for talks with UK to resolve Assange case

(Xinhua)

10:10, August 21, 2012

Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange demonstrate in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, Aug. 16, 2012. Britain will not allow Assange safe passage out of the country and will continue to seek to extradite him to Sweden, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday after Ecuador granted Assange political asylum. (Photo/Xinhua)

QUITO, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Monday his country would pursue dialogue with Britain to reach a negotiated settlement over stand-off concerning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's political asylum, before taking the case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the Netherlands.

"We prefer to continue working through dialogue with Great Britain," Patino told state-run Gama TV, adding the court represented "a path that would be left to us afterwards."

"We know that (resorting to the court) takes a lot of time, it would be several years at least before the body could make a decision, and we prefer the matter to be resolved before several years go by," he said.

Ecuador last Thursday announced it would grant political asylum to Assange, who fears U.S. retribution for his hand in helping expose classified U.S. military documents on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through his whistleblower website.

The British government responded it would refuse to give Assange safe passage to leave the country and threatened to storm the embassy to seize him by force, if Ecuador does not hand him over. Assange remains holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has spent the past nearly two months.

Patino said Ecuador would first wait for Britain to "withdraw" its threat to revoke the embassy's diplomatic status and trespass through the property to get at Assange.

The British government wants to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he would face sex crime charges, but neither government has ruled out his eventual delivery to U.S. authorities.

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