Guyana, Venezuelan foreign ministers hold phone talks

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro. FILE PHOTO

THE foreign ministers of Guyana (Hugh Hilton Todd) and Venezuela (Yvan Gill) on Wednesday held a phone conversation on the latter’s claim to the Essequibo area of Guyana, said statements from each country.

Newsday also received a statement on Wednesday from a spokesman at the US Embassy in Port of Spain urging a peaceful resolution of the border dispute.

This came the day after Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro promised several actions inside the Essequibo, including granting oil exploration rights and issuing Venezuelan ID cards to residents.

The US Embassy spokesman said, “The 1899 arbitral award determined the land boundary between Venezuela and Guyana and should be respected unless, or until, the parties reach a new agreement, or a competent legal body decides otherwise.

“The US urges Venezuela and Guyana to continue to seek a peaceful resolution of their dispute, including by the International Court of Justice.”

Statements from Guyana and Venezuela each claimed Wednesday’s talks were at the behest of the other side.

Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation issued a statement titled: Guyana reiterates need for respect for territorial integrity.

The Guyanese statement said Todd and Gill had a phone call initiated by the Ambassador of Venezuela to Guyana, Carlos Amador Perez Silva.

It said Todd expressed concern over “recent actions emanating from Caracas over the last 24 hours which were in direct violation of the order of the International Court of Justice on December 1.” The statement reiterated Guyana’s commitment to resolve the controversy by the ongoing judicial process and encouraged Venezuela to participate in the case before the court.

“Minister Todd further reiterated Guyana’s commitment to the respect for international law and the need for the maintenance of peace and security in the region.

“He encouraged respect for Guyana’s respect and territorial integrity.”

The Venezuelan Government recounted the talks by issuing a communiqué.

It said the talks were held “at the request of the Guyanese side” to discuss the territorial controversy after last Sunday’s referendum called by the National Assembly.

“The Venezuelan side took the opportunity to update the Government of Guyana on the overwhelming participation in the popular consultation, which resulted in an unappealable mandate for the Venezuelan institutions on the route to follow for the settlement of this territorial controversy, which is the Geneva Agreement signed between the parties in 1966.

“The Venezuelan side expressed the need to stop the actions of aggravation of the controversy in the territory of the Guayana Esequiba and agreed to keep the channels of communication open.”