News / USA

    Clinton Voices US Support for Ecuadorian President, Democratic Rule

    The State Department says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to affirm U.S. support following Thursday's police rebellion. U.S. officials are expressing relief the crisis has apparently eased.

    The United States has had its differences with the left-leaning Ecuadorian president. But the Obama administration is expressing full support for Mr. Correa, in the face of a police uprising Thursday that the Ecuadorian leader says was an attempt to overthrow his administration.

    Police, angry over proposed benefit cuts, seized control of the South American country's main airport and shut down highways.

    The Ecuadorian leader himself was overcome by tear gas fumes in an angry confrontation with demonstrators, from which he had to be rescued by army troops.

    A U.S. statement late Thursday deplored what was termed the "violence and lawlessness" and expressed full support for Mr. Correa and democratic institutions in Ecuador.

    State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Secretary Clinton followed up Friday with a call to Mr. Correa and expressed hope for a peaceful and rapid restoration of order.

    Crowley, under questioning, declined to characterize Thursday's events in Ecuador as a coup attempt but said what had started out as a protest did represent a challenge to the Quito government.

    He expressed relief at Friday's restoration of calm amid a government-declared state of emergency. "The government responded effectively. Today there are clear statements by the Ecuadorian military that they pledge their support to the government and to the president. And we believe this is just the kind of action that is necessary to resolve this, with an affirmation of democratic values, and that's what we hope for Ecuador," he said.

    Mr. Correa two years ago ended an agreement under which U.S. military planes used an Ecuadorian air base for drug surveillance flights, and has been an ardent critic of a subsequent U.S.-Colombian base agreement.

    However Secretary Clinton visited Mr. Correa in Quito in June and both expressed interest in better relations.

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