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Granger-Maduro talks not ruled out

Presidents David Granger and Nicolas Maduro

Guyana’s President, David Granger will be open to talks with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro on the simmering border row between their two neighbouring countries, according to Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge.

“There is room for discussion in an appropriate forum and if that is in the margins of the UN (United Nations) or anywhere else then that’s not a problem,” he told reporters.

However, at this stage Greenidge said there was no proposal for the two South American leaders to hold talks.  “We are not meeting one-on-one. There is no proposal to meet one-on-one and I don’t know what would be the objective of such a one-on-one,” said the Foreign Minister.

Leaders from around the world would be addressing the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks.

Maduro has said that the Guyana-Venezuela controversy would be discussed at a upcoming Latin American meeting. Venezuela continues to claim the Essequibo Region, saying that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal  Award was concocted in favour of then British Guiana.

While Guyana remains available for bilateral discussions, it is pushing for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to order a judicial settlement of the controversy over the ruling of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that settled the land-border controversy between the two countries. Guyana is expected to reiterate that position when Ban’s envoy visits Georgetown “soon.”

On the other hand, Maduro wants the UN ‘Good Officer’ mediation process to resume, a mechanism that Guyana says has not borne any fruit and Venezuela has used to keep the controversy on the front-burner while sabotaging Guyana’s investments efforts in the mineral and forest rich areas.

A bitter row erupted between the two countries ever since the American oil exploration company, ExxonMobil, announced in May that it had found a “significant” deposit of high quality crude oil offshore Guyana.

Venezuela reacted by unilaterally delineating its maritime boundary to take in all of the Atlantic waters off the Essequibo Coast  which includes the location of the oil exploration rig.