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Venezuela says research ship was not in Guyanese waters

Research Vessel ‘Teknik Perdana’

(BBC).-Venezuelan on Friday demanded an official explanation from Guyana about the presence of seismic research vessel in Atlantic Ocean waters that both countries claim as theirs, the BBC reported.

Caracas made known its position shortly after Guyana issued a statement condemning the Thursday afternoon arrest of the vessel “Teknik Perdana”. Venezuela demanded an official explanation from the Guyanese authorities.

“Venezuela expresses its deepest concerns over the manner in which foreign vessels authorised by the government of Guyana enter Venezuelan territorial waters and exclusive economic area,” said the statement.

“We reiterate that the Bolivarian National Navy would never encroach on the territory of a fraternal nation,” it adds.

According to the statement, the vessel is expected to dock in the Margarita Island at 0600 local time (1130 GMT) on Saturday.

The foreign ministry reaffirmed Venezuela’s “peaceful vocation” and said it had no intention of “going back to previous situations of confrontation with the Republic of Guyana”.

For its part, the government of Guyana says the Venezuelan navy has entered its territorial waters and detained a US-operated ship.

Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told that top officials of the Foreign Ministry met with representatives of the opposition to discuss the matter. A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on Friday unequivocally supported the Guyana government in condemning Venezuela’s latest act of aggression.

The BBC further reported that Guyana said the Venezuelan actions in the disputed Essequibo region constituted “a serious threat to peace in the region”.

The ship was contracted by the Texas-based company Anadarkoto look for oil in the area.

Caracas has said the ship was operating illegally in Venezuelan waters.

Teknik Perdana – was surveying the seafloor on Thursday when it was approached by a Venezuelan navy vessel and forced to sail to Venezuela’s Margarita Island. At least five US citizens are on board, the company said.

“One point is clear: the Teknik Perdana was in Guyana’s waters when this incident took place,” said the Guyanan foreign ministry in a statement.

The ship sails under a Panamanian flag and is owned by Singaporean marine surveying company.

The vast area west of the Essequibo river makes up two-thirds of the territory of Guyana.

It has been claimed by Venezuela as its own since the 19th century, when Guyana was still a British colony.

The late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, made attempts to improve relations between the two South American neighbours.

In an official visit to Georgetown in 2004, he played down the dispute and said that “the integration of South America and the Caribbean is vital, especially now that neo-liberalism has failed”.