Ecuador's President Rafael Correa expelled on Wednesday a second U.S. diplomat this month in a dispute over an aid program, fueling tensions between the OPEC member and its most important trade partner during his re-election campaign.
Ecuador said the diplomat -- like the previous ejected official -- meddled with police officer appointments in a program receiving U.S. aid, but Washington rejected the accusation.
"We are declaring Mr. Mark Sullivan persona-non-grata, he is the first secretary of the embassy and we are giving him 48 hours to leave the country," Foreign Affairs Minister Fander Falconi told reporters.
The U.S. State Department called the expulsion "unjustified" and said it would "respond as appropriate."
After coming to office in 2007, Correa told the United States it would have to stop using an Ecuadorean air base when its lease ends this year.
Correa this month, declared he would not bow to pressure from the United States and has now raised complications in establishing his relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Campaigning for an April election, Correa has stressed his credentials as a leader who can stand up to foreign influence, whether from governments or multinational companies.
Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2009, 12:18