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Ecuador and Venezuela compete to praise WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

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Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino today stepped back from the offer, saying in a TV interview that the possibility "will have to be studied from the legal and diplomatic perspective," but the quick praise from Latin America's leftist leaders shows how some in the region are enjoying watching Washington squirm over the largest document leak in US history.

Some of the leaked cables, particularly regarding the stress levels of Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the ouster of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, could be troubling for US-Latin American relations. However, most analysts doubt that American diplomacy in the region is in jeopardy.

"This is a golden opportunity for Hugo Chávez or [Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa]," says Riordan Roett, director of the Latin America Studies Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "Chávez always looks for opportunities to point fingers or laugh at the US.... This is just the usual rhetoric."

“[The Ecuadorian invitation] is an empty, nationalistic, anti-US gesture,” says Christopher Sabatini, editor-in-chief of the policy journal Americas Quarterly in New York, which is published by the Council of the Americas. “Overall I think most of what is going to be found will embarrass other leaders but will not do much to embarrass US leaders.”

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