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Top UN court declines to issue preliminary orders in Mexico-Ecuador dispute over Quito embassy raid

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The top United Nations court declined Thursday to issue an immediate order for Ecuador to protect Mexican diplomatic property following the storming of Mexico’s embassy in Quito to arrest a former vice president.

International Court of Justice President Nawaf Salam said pledges made by Ecuador in a letter to the court and in public hearings last month “encompass the concerns expressed by Mexico” in its request for interim measures.

He said that given Ecuador’s assurances, “the court considers that there is at present no urgency” requiring preliminary orders.

Ecuador’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Andres Teran Parral, welcomed the court’s ruling.

“The court highlighted, among other things, that Ecuador has given repeated assurances that it would provide full protection and security to the premises, property and archives of the Mexican Embassy in Quito. Ecuador stands by its assurances,” he told reporters at the court.

The April 5 raid, hours after Mexico granted asylum to former Vice President Jorge Glas, drew widespread condemnation in Latin America and ratcheted up tensions that had been brewing between the two countries since Glas, a convicted criminal and fugitive, took refuge at the embassy in December.

At a hearing late last month, Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, legal adviser for Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, told International Court of Justice judges that Ecuador’s actions overstepped “lines in international law which should not be crossed.”

After Thursday’s ruling, Alcantara called Ecuador’s pledges a good sign, but added that “we would want to see all of the political actors in Ecuador reassuring that an embassy cannot be violated.”

The decision came at a preliminary phase of a case filed by Mexico accusing Ecuador of breaching international law and asking the court to suspend Ecuador as member of the United Nations until the country issues “a public apology recognizing its violations to the fundamental principles and norms of international law” and agrees to reparations.

The case will likely take years to resolve. In the meantime, Mexico had asked the court to order Ecuador to take “appropriate and immediate steps to provide full protection and security of diplomatic premises” and prevent any further intrusions. It also wanted Ecuador to let Mexico clear its diplomatic premises and the homes of its diplomats in the country.

At public hearings at the Hague-based court, Parral, defended the storming the Mexican Embassy, telling judges that his country acted to take custody of Glas, whom he called “a common criminal.”

He also said that the ICJ doesn’t need to act now because Quito has already complied with the measures sought by Mexico.

While the court agreed, Nawaf stressed that “there is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between states than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies.”

Alcantara welcomed that emphasis by the court.

“This is of the utmost importance for Mexico, for Ecuador, for the world entirely recognizing that there is no exceptions to the inviolability,” he said.

Associated Press