Sweden hopes to reach a judicial cooperation deal with Ecuador by year’s end that would pave the way for Swedish prosecutors to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation, officials said Monday. “We hope to have an agreement soon … we hope to have it well before Christmas,” Swedish justice ministry official Cecilia Riddselius told AFP. Swedish and Ecuadorian officials met in Stockholm for the first time to hammer out a general agreement for judicial cooperation between the two countries. Ecuador has demanded that such an agreement be in place before it will let Swedish prosecutors interview Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012. Swedish prosecutors offered in March to question Assange in London, dropping their previous demand that he come to Sweden to answer to the 2010 allegations. The offer was seen as providing the potential for a breakthrough in the case, which has been deadlocked for nearly five years. But Quito refused to allow such a meeting until a bilateral judicial agreement was in place.
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