Venezuela, Guyana Presidents to meet on Dec 14 amid border dispute

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CARACAS (Venenzuela): Amid the ongoing territorial dispute, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro will be meeting his Guyana counterpart Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Al Jazeera reported citing a letter from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister.

The bilateral meeting is set to take place on December 14 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where they will be accompanied by Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves.

Notably, tensions have been mounting between Venezuela and Guyana in recent weeks due to a long-running border dispute over Esequibo, an area in Guyana where massive discoveries of offshore oil and gas have been made, according to Al Jazeera.

Venezuela’s government said the meeting “is in order to preserve our aspiration to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace”.
The Office of the President of Guyana confirmed Ali had agreed to the meeting, but added, “Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion.”

The regional blocs of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are mediating to bring the parties together.

Earlier on Saturday, Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — who has also been invited to Thursday’s meeting as an observer zspoke to Maduro and called for dialogue, saying it was important to avoid unilateral measures that could escalate the situation, Al Jazeera reported.

For decades, Venezuela has laid claim to Essequibo, claiming that the Essequibo River to the region’s east forms a natural border and has historically been recognised as such, according to Al Jazeera.

The country’s latest efforts to overtake the territory were piqued in 2015 when ExxonMobil announced that it had found oil in commercial quantities off the Essequibo coast.

Last weekend, voters in Venezuela also rejected the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) jurisdiction over the area, backing the creation of a new state.

Maduro also proposed a government meeting for sending bill to the National Assembly for the creation of a ‘Guyana Esequiba’ province.

However, Guyana, of which Essequibo makes up more than two-thirds and hosts 125,000 of its 800,000 citizens, has administered the territory since the frontiers were determined by an arbitration panel in 1899, Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)

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