Ecuador firm on reducing US presence, spies

Ecuador firm on reducing US presence, spies
Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:10:26

Ecuador has called on the United States to reduce the number of military staff on its territory, warning it also would not allow US espionage equipment.

"It just makes no sense that an outsized number of US military staff, who report to the US Southern Command, would be here, at the US Embassy," Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters on Saturday.

Patino argued that "to coordinate things, you need two or three. You don't need 50. We are trying to determine what it is they were doing here."

It was more than a gentle reminder that the world has been concerned about US intentions especially after the scandal over US cyber-spying has emerged.

"We will not be allowing them to install spying equipment, and we are going to find out everything about the staff and teams they have here so we can avoid falling victim to legal offenses like the ones all around the world," the top Ecuadoran diplomat warned.

President Rafael Correa said Wednesday he would ask the United States to withdraw American military personnel assigned to its embassy in Quito.

Correa said he became aware of what he described as the oversized presence after learning that four US military personnel were aboard an Ecuadoran military helicopter that came under fire on October 3 near the border with Colombia.

Correa, an economist by training who has long railed against America's imperialism in its Latin American backyard, said Quito was "already taking measures" to address the issue.

In Washington, a US official claimed that the 50 military personnel cited by Correa were "more than double the actual number.


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