Ecuador is still willing to negotiate with the British government over the fate of Julian Assange, despite the foreign office's "threat" to raid its embassy in London and arrest the WikiLeaks founder, a senior diplomatic source has revealed.
Ecuador's decision to grant political asylum to Assange, who faces allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, has provoked a bitter political row between Quito and London.
British authorities have threatened to use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act, 1987, to arrest Assange inside the embassy building in Knightsbridge.
According to the Guardian, the Ecuadorian diplomatic source, however, said that Quito had been encouraged by a phone call made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ecuadorean ambassador on Thursday. "The FCO called the ambassador on Friday to confirm that it still had the will to talk and negotiate, so we'll keep talking," the paper quoted the source, as saying.
"The fact that they called the ambassador makes us think that the letter with the threat of using domestic legislation to make an incursion into the embassy and arrest somebody inside was a mistake," he added.
"In the negotiations with the FCO, Ecuador has been proposing that we would be prepared to accept an undertaking from the UK and Sweden that, once Julian Assange has faced the Swedish investigation, he will not be extradited to a third country: specifically the US," he said.
Meanwhile, US prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against Assange and are intent on pursuing him, declassified diplomatic cables have revealed.
The Australian embassy in Washington has been tracking a US espionage investigation targeting Assange for more than 18 months.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the revelations are contrary to comments made by the foreign affairs minister, Bob Carr, who has dismissed suggestions the US plans to eventually extradite Assange on charges of leaking US military and diplomatic documents.
He had repeatedly dismissed suggestions that the US has any interest in prosecuting and extraditing Assange.