Ecuador expels US embassy official

Correa says the US official has abruptly ended a financing deal with local police.

    Correa, who enjoys a 70 per cent popularity rating, will run for a second term as president in April polls [AFP]

    Correa said Astorga suspended $340,000 in annual aid to Ecuador's anti-contraband police and demanded in a January 8 letter that the police return all vehicles, furniture, cameras and phones donated by Washington.

    "Mr Astorga keep your dirty money. We don't need it. We have dignity in this country," he said.

    "Ecuador doesn't need charity from anyone."

    Fred Lash, a US State Department spokesman, said that Washington was aware of the announcement and was checking into it.

    Anti-US sentiment

    Correa also said that he would allow US coast guard airplanes to  land on Ecuadorean soil, a request made earlier by Heather Hodges, the US ambassador, only "on one condition: that we be allowed to vet the pilots of those planes, so that they don't sneak criminals into the country."

    There has been tension with Washington since Correa vowed not to renew a lease ending this year on a coastal air base used by US troops for counter-narcotics missions.

    Correa, who enjoys a 70 per cent popularity rating, is running for a second four-year term as president in April elections.

    Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president and a standard-bearer for anti-US sentiment, last year expelled the US ambassador to Caracas and Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, kicked out the US envoy in September after accusing him of fanning civil unrest.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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