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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ecuador expels second U.S. embassy official

QUITO, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador on Wednesday expelled a U.S. embassy official for allegedly interfering with internal national police matters.

Mark Sullivan, the first secretary in the embassy's office of regional affairs, was the second U.S. embassy official expelled this month by President Rafael Correa, who has accused the American officials of "insolence" for conditioning aid on the right to veto personnel choices.

Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said Sullivan was ordered to leave after a police report mentioning his alleged interference with the Special Investigation Unit (Uies) came out.

Sullivan must leave the country within 48 hours because of his "unacceptable meddling," Falconi said.

The Uies, whose activities center on drug trafficking and political security, worked closely with the U.S. embassy.

Ninety-nine Uies police officers and agents have run out of money to continue their operations since the withdrawal of U.S. aid.

On Feb. 7, President Correa ordered the expulsion of Armando Astorga, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attache, for allegedly suspending 340,000 U.S. dollars in annual aid because Ecuador would not allow the U.S. to veto appointments to the anti-smuggling police.

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