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Guyana, Venezuela to prepare for maritime delimitation negotiations

Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and the Minister of Foreign Relations of Venezuela, Elías Jaua signing the joint statement

Guyana and Venezuela Thursday night agreed that they would within four months begin groundwork for the start of negotiations for the delimitation of their maritime boundary, in the wake of last week’s arrest of a seismic research ship by the Venezuelan navy.

Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said that during the six-hour meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad with her delegation and one headed by Venezuela’s Foreign Relations Minister, Elías Jaua the two countries held on to their position that the Research Vessel Teknik Perdana was in each other’s waters when it was intercepted and arrested last week Thursday.

“In this regard, Ministers Rodrigues-Birkett and Jaua agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation. To this end, they agreed that a technical team would meet within four months to exchange views on how such delimitation could proceed,” the two delegations said in a statement.

In a separate statement issued from Port-of-Spain, Rodrigues-Birkett said that “based on information provided by the judicial authorities , the crew and vessel is expected to be released within the coming hours.” The Ukrainian captain has been charged with violating Venezuela’s maritime law and he is expected to return to court soon.

Aboard the vessel are five Ukrainians, five Americans, two Britons, five Malaysians, 14 Indonesians, two Russians, one French and two Brazilians. Owned by a Malaysian company, the ship was contracted by the Texas, United States-headquartered oil exploration company, Anadarko, to explore for oil in an offshore concession in the Roraima Block granted by Guyana.

Following is the full text of the Joint Statement.

Joint Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and the People’s Minister for Foreign Relations of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Elias Jaua Milano

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guyana, the Honourable Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and the People’s Minister for Foreign Relations of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday October 17, 2013 on the instructions of their Presidents with the aim of advancing the bilateral political dialogue in light of the recent event.

The Ministers expressed their satisfaction over the excellent relations which have developed between the two nations under the Presidency of Donald Ramotar and Nicolas Maduro Moros. In this regard, they reiterated that dialogue and cooperation are the means for a peaceful solution of differences between States.

The Ministers ratified all the points of the Joint Declaration of September 30, 2011 in Port of Spain, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and the then Minister of the People’s Power for External Relations of the Bolivarian Republic, Nicolas Maduro Moros, where they recognised that the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between their two States remains an outstanding issue and agreed that such delimitation will require negotiations. In this regard, Ministers Rodrigues-Birkett and Jaua agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation. To this end, they agreed that a technical team would meet within four months to exchange views on how such delimitation could proceed.

Finally both Ministers expressed their appreciation for the hospitality of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in facilitating this meeting.

Port of Spain

October 17, 2013