Venezuela, Guyana to engage in dialogue to resolve territorial dispute

Venezuela, Guyana to engage in dialogue to resolve territorial dispute

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Venezuela, Guyana to engage in dialogue to resolve territorial dispute

Venezuela’s top diplomat, Yvan Gil Pinto, said: “Venezuela and the government of [President] Nicolas Maduro are ready to look for alternative ways that could enable us to come to a mutually acceptable agreement”

The foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guyana have confirmed, at a meeting in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, their readiness to engage in a dialogue to resolve the neighboring South American countries’ longstanding territorial dispute.

“We give our assurances to the Venezuelan side that Guyana affirms its intention to peacefully address Venezuela’s territorial claims,” Guyanese Foreign Minister Hugh Todd said following the meeting, which was mediated by his Brazilian counterpart, Mauro Vieira.

In turn, Venezuela’s top diplomat, Yvan Gil Pinto, said: “Venezuela and the government of [President] Nicolas Maduro are ready to look for alternative ways that could enable us to come to a mutually acceptable agreement.” He described direct, face-to-face negotiations as the only way toward finding a peaceful and harmonious solution to the disputed region of Guyana Essequibo. “We underlined the importance of preventing any foreign interference in the dispute and the need to consider Guyana’s position and actions regarding the non-demarcated maritime zone in order to ensure the compliance of conditions coordinated by our countries decades ago,” Gil said. He also expressed his satisfaction with the talks he held with his Guyanese counterpart, adding that “he is expecting much from future discussions.”

The two countries also established a joint high-level commission to work toward resolving their territorial dispute, Venezolana de Television reported. The meeting between the two foreign ministers, which was initiated by Brazil’s Vieira, was hosted by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

The dispute between Caracas and Georgetown over ownership of the 159,500 square kilometer territory west of the Essequibo River has been ongoing for over a century. The territorial dispute has been further aggravated by the discovery in 2015 of oil fields containing at least 10 bln barrels of oil and the granting by Guyana of a concession to oil major ExxonMobil for petroleum production on Guyana’s continental shelf, the boundaries of which have not been demarcated.

On December 14, Venezuela and Guyana agreed not to use force over their border dispute, following negotiations in Kingstown, capital of Caribbean island nation Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Both parties also committed to ensuring that Latin America remains a zone of peace and said that they would refrain from escalating the situation in the disputed border region.