By RAPHAEL SATTER Associated Press
LONDON August 17, 2012 (AP)
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Experts and ex-diplomats say Britain's Foreign Office, which warned Ecuador of a little known law that would allow it to side-step usual diplomatic protocols, messed up by issuing a threat it couldn't back up.
"It was a big mistake," said former British ambassador Oliver Miles. "It puts the British government in the position of asking for something illegitimate."
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The Ecuadoreans were outraged by the notes, accusing Britain of threatening to assault their embassy and calling a crisis meeting of the Union of South American Nations. The ripples from the controversy continued to spread Friday, with Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying in a brief message posted to Twitter that the issue raised questions about diplomatic protections.
Britain's Foreign Office insists its missive was "not a threat," something that Miles dismissed with a laugh. "If I tell you, 'I'm not threatening you but I DO have a very large stick here,' it's a question of semantics," he said.