Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Friday about Edward Snowden, the man at the center of an international manhunt sparked by his leaking of classified U.S. government surveillance programs, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed to CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett Saturday.
Snowden is believed to be eyeing asylum in Ecuador, among other countries, as he tries to evade extradition back to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges due to his disclosure of classified information.
The call between Biden and Snowden, which dealt with a broad range of bilateral issues aside from Snowden, is the highest-level conversation between American and Ecuadorean officials that has been publicly disclosed since Snowden began seeking asylum.
Correa, in his weekly television address on Saturday, explained that Biden "communicated a very courteous request" for Ecuador to reject any asylum request from Snowden, the Reuters news agency reports.
Correa described the call as "cordial," contrasting it with the, as he phrased it, "brats" in the U.S. Congress, which have threatened to cut trade benefits between Ecuador and America over the Snowden affair.
"If [Snowden] arrives," he said, "of course the first opinions we will seek are those of the United States."
Snowden had been hiding in Hong Kong since the beginning of June, when he leaked the programs, but he fled Hong Kong for Moscow last Sunday. He is believed to be staying in the transit zone of a Moscow airport, for travelers who are laid over in Russia but do not have a visa to officially enter Russian territory.
Ecuadorean officials have publicly praised Snowden, and Correa himself has long butted heads with the United States, where he once studied economics, but his comments on Saturday reflect a more measured tone, perhaps signaling that the country's leaders are thinking twice about thumbing their nose at the United States. Ecuador's business community has raised concerns about the economic impact of losing trade benefits with the United States, Ecuador's biggest foreign market.