UK and Ecuador make no progress in Assange case

Julian Assange Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The UK and Ecuador have made absolutely no progress in the case of Julian Assange - the WikiLeaks founder who has been granted asylum by the south American country.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague met his counterpart, Ricardo Patino, this morning - a year after Mr Assange started living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The two countries remain as far apart as ever.

A Foreign Office source describe the meeting as "business-like" which is diplomatic code for frosty.

The FCO says the UK is legally bound to send Julian Assange to Sweden where he is wanted to face questions over allegations of a series of sex crimes.

The two countries have set up a working group to explore if there is any scope for narrowing their differences.

But we should be under no illusions, says a Whitehall source, about the limited scope for breaking the impasse between the UK and Ecuador disagree.

"Based on this morning's conversions," the source added, "you should not underestimate our differences."

Mr Patino said that Julian Assange was prepared to stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for five years if necessary.

The round-the-clock police operation at the embassy in Knightsbridge has so far cost around £3 million.