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Ecuador says to talk with Britain on Assange on June 17

By Sarah Young and Alexandra Valencia

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has said he will meet Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague this month to discuss a possible solution to the year-long diplomatic standoff over WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

Assange, 41, took refuge in Ecuador’s tiny embassy in London last June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sex assault and rape allegations. He denies the allegations.

“On June 17, one year after Assange entered the Ecuadorean embassy in London, I will meet again with secretary William Hague in that city,” Patino said Monday on his Twitter account.

“We expect the meeting with the secretary … will lead to a solution in the case of Assange’s asylum.”

A spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign Office said earlier it was considering a request made by Patino to meet Hague in London.

“We hope the visit will contribute to our joint commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to this issue,” she said.

News of the possible meeting comes as Bradley Manning, the American soldier charged with “aiding the enemy” by providing WikiLeaks with more than 700,000 classified documents, went on trial in the United States on Monday.

Assange said last year he expected to wait six months to a year for a deal that would allow him to leave the embassy, after Ecuador’s socialist president, Rafael Correa, angered Britain by granting him asylum.

Patino accused the British government last week of trampling on Assange’s human rights by refusing to allow him to travel to Ecuador. Late last year, Correa’s government said the Australian citizen was suffering from lung problems.

Ecuador argues that the attempt to deport Assange to Sweden is part of a scheme by the U.S. government to have the former computer hacker extradited to American soil so he too can face charges over WikiLeaks’ release of the U.S. documents.

U.S. and European government sources say the United States has issued no criminal charges against Assange, nor launched any attempts to extradite him.

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