PM attends Guyana-Venezuela talks

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

THE Prime Minister will attend Thursday’s talks in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) between Guyana President Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro about the ongoing border controversy between their two countries.

A statement issued on Tuesday by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said Dr Rowley would attend the meeting between Ali and Maduro “on matters related to the border dispute.”

The OPM added that the meeting between Ali and Maduro “was born out of ongoing discussions and a decision taken at an emergency Caricom virtual meeting held last Friday (December 8).”

Ali and Maduro have agreed to attend the meeting.

SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves will chair the meeting as the current chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

In a signed letter on Tuesday to Gonsalves, Ali said it was necessary for him to clarify certain “inaccuracies” in a letter from Maduro to Gonsalves on Monday.

He said Maduro’s claim that the US Southern Command (USSSOUTHCOM) is operating in the disputed territory in the Essequibo region is false.

“The Government of Guyana maintains its sovereign right to engage in any form of co-operation with its bilateral partners and does not support intervention in the internal affairs of any other state.”

Ali said that was a principle honoured by responsible states in the international community.

“Any allegation that a military operation aimed at Venezuela exists in any part of Guyanese territory is false, provocative and misleading.”

Ali also rejected claims by Maduro that recent oil discoveries in Guyana fall “in a maritime area yet to be delimited.”

He said it is clear that “all of the oil blocks are located well within Guyanese waters under international law.”

That law, Ali continued, includes the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea “which guarantees coastal states the exclusive rights to the resources in the sea and seabed within 200 nautical miles of their coasts.”

He said the blocks all fell within those boundaries.

“To underscore the misleading nature of President Maduro’s statement, it is important to note that in 2015, a significant discovery was made by Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Ltd in the Stabroek Block approximately 120 miles offshore Guyana.

“Production has since commenced and been carried on without interference from Venezuela.”

He reiterated that he was prepares to speak with Maduro “on any other aspect that may contribute to improving and strengthening amicable relations between our two countries.”

In a statement on December 11, the Commonwealth Ministerial Group called for “a de-escalation of the tensions between Venezuela and Guyana, respect for international law, the maintenance of peace, and the rejection of the use or threats of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Guyana.”

The group rejected the recent actions of Venezuela which it said constitute a threat to Guyana’s sovereignty and a disregard of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on December 1 which urges Venezuela to refrain from seizing Guyana’s Essequibo region.