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Brazilian foreign minister resigns

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Brazilian foreign minister resigns
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Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonia Patriota has stepped down after a Bolivian senator wanted for corruption fled his homeland with the help of a Brazilian diplomat.

Patriota resigned Monday after meeting with president Dilma Rousseff and was replaced by Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, head of the Brazilian mission to the UN, Xinhua reported citing a statement from the president's office.

Earlier, Eduardo Saboia, a Brazilian diplomat stationed in Laz Paz, said he managed to successfully smuggle Roger Pinto, an opponent of Bolivian President Evo Morales, to Brazil last Friday after the latter was holed up for 15 months in the Brazilian embassy in Bolivia.

Saboia, the Brazilian charge d'affaires in La Paz, described what he did as a "personal decision".

"I chose life. I chose to protect a person, a persecuted politician," he told Brazil's Globo television.

Pinto, who was wanted by Bolivian authorities for corruption and other charges, arrived in Brasilia Monday after being transported Friday from La Paz to the Brazilian border with an embassy car escorted by Brazilian marines.

The Bolivian government was outraged, saying the incident would hurt relations between the two neighbouring countries.

"What happened is serious, which is why we are demanding explanations from Brazil," Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said.

Pinto, a right wing politician, had blamed Morales for corruption, as part of what the Bolivian government called as a smear plot against the president.

Facing a corruption investigation himself, he then sought asylum at the Brazilian embassy, which was granted in June 2012.

After Pinto's flight, Patriota had recalled Saboia to Brazil for an investigation into the incident. He also vowed to take disciplinary actions if necessary.

The incident is expected to further fan up tensions between La Paz and Brasilia over Pinto, as Morales had called the Brazilian decision to grant Pinto asylum "a mistake".

IANS

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