US expels Ecuadorean ambassador in tit-for-tat move
The United States ordered Ecuador's ambassador to leave and scrapped a round of talks to retaliate for the expulsion of its envoy in Quito over US diplomatic cables alleging police corruption.
While saying the United States wanted a positive relationship with Ecuador, an OPEC member, the State Department said Quito's "unjustified" expulsion of US Ambassador Heather Hodges would have to be factored into future relations.
Ecuador said the US move was expected and it suggested it would take no action to escalate the dispute.
The Andean nation demanded on Tuesday that Hodges leave, in a dispute over US diplomatic cables reporting alleged police corruption that were released by WikiLeaks.
Quito has said cables signed by Hodges' office suggested senior Ecuadorean police commanders were aware of corrupt practices in the force and that one US Embassy official believed the office of President Rafael Correa also knew.
Ecuador is the third Latin American country whose left-wing government has expelled a US envoy in recent years. In 2008, Bolivia kicked out Washington's ambassador, saying he incited violent protests. A day later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez followed suit, citing solidarity with Bolivia.
"The unjustified action of the Ecuadorean government to declare Ambassador Hodges persona non grata left us no other option than this reciprocal action," State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet said.
Ecuadorean Ambassador Luis Gallegos was summoned to the State Department morning and informed of the US decision to declare him persona non grata, requiring him to leave the country as soon as possible, the spokesman added.