By Ian Dunt
Britain would be committing "diplomatic suicide" if it tried to enter Ecuador's embassy, the country's president warned overnight.
The development comes as relations between the UK and Latin American states – already tense due to the Falklands Islands dispute – deteriorate as a result of the row over Julian Assange.
A meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) earlier this week saw Ecuador's foreign minister hold hands with the his counterparts from several regional states as they berated Britain for its threat to use a little-known piece of legislation to enter the embassy.
A meeting of the left-leaning Organisation of American States on Friday is also likely to offer strong support.
"While the United Kingdom hasn't retracted nor apologised, the danger still exists," President Rafael Correa said.
Such a course of action would be "suicide for Great Britain because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn't be able to say a thing".
The Ecuadorian leader said that in addition to the Organisation of American States he could also take the case to the United Nations.
"Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it's easier to bring down a number of Goliaths," he said.
"So we're hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale."
He added: "The British say they have no choice but to extradite him but why didn't they extradite Augusto Pinochet?"
The Foreign Office's decision to tell Ecuador it could use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 to enter the embassy has spectacularly backfired.
Even though any use of the act would require a lengthy court case, complete with appeal processes, the suggestion Britain could enter the embassy allowed Ecuador to gather regional support and present the Assange row as an instance of western bullying against developing states.
The political row is a major setback for the Foreign Office, which has dedicated considerable resources to improving relations with Latin America, as part of a move to decrease reliance on trade with the eurozone.
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By Ian Dunt
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