UK & World News
Assange Case: Officials To Meet In New York
Ecuador and Britain will hold talks in the US later to try to resolve the deadlock over the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino will meet the British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the UN in New York, where he is expected to demand Mr Assange is given free passage.
The Australian has been in Ecuador's London Embassy since June as part of his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on allegations of sex offences.
He fears being sent to the United States to face interrogation over the whistle-blowing website.
The Australian has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, but faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.
"We hope (Thursday's) meeting will mark the beginning of a new chapter in seeking a solution to the present situation," an Ecuadorian official said.
"For the part of the Ecuadorian government, we are more than willing to find an amicable answer that respects the values of international human rights and the integrity of sovereign nations."
The meeting marks exactly 100 days since Mr Assange walked into the embassy in central London.
Britain insists it is legally obliged to send him to Sweden but Mr Patino said his country is prepared to shelter the WikiLeaks founder for 10 years if necessary.
"Absolutely we are prepared. Mr Assange we suppose is too, because he made the decision to request asylum and he knew the implications," he said.
"We are willing to withstand any situations that arise. We are not going to go back on our decision."
The talks come 24 hours after Mr Assange addressed the UN by video link and called on the US to halt its "persecution" of WikiLeaks.
"I speak to you today as a free man," he said in the address - despite speaking from a tiny embassy surrounded by British police.
He accused US President Barack Obama of seeking to exploit the Arab Spring for political gain in the speech to a sideline meeting of the UN General Assembly.
Mr Assange attempted to draw parallels between himself and the instigators of the uprising, claiming they had all been let down by Mr Obama.
And he claimed that the uprisings had in part been inspired by his organisation's disclosures about despotic rulers, including Tunisia's deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"Mohamed Bouazizi did not set himself on fire so that Barack Obama could get reelected," he told the meeting, referring to the self-immolation by a Tunisian which sparked the uprising that toppled Ben Ali.
Mr Assange also accused Britain and Sweden of failing to provide guarantees that he would not face extradition to the US in order to help preserve close military and intelligence links with Washington.
Both European nations insist he must be sent to Sweden under international and European law and that they cannot legally offer any pledges to refuse a possible future US extradition request.