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Maduro says Venezuela’s troop deployment was anti-narcotics operation; avoids direct reference to border controversy

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 29, 2015.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday stayed clear of any direct reference to the border controversy with Guyana, but instead said the recent troop deployment had more to do with is country’s fight against drug trafficking.

“With all due respect in this General Assembly of the United Nations, we had to carry out an operation along our borders with Colombia and Guyana.

He credited the Union of South America Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that “helped to mediate the situation.” “There was the problem of drug traffickers and now today I can say that we really have positive hopes that the situation resolved and we would be able to resume normal working relations with the government of Colombia and the same applies to our sister Republic of Guyana.”

Venezuela three days ago, ahead of the UN General Assembly, scaled back troops, missiles and gunboats from near the border with Guyana. Guyana had also claimed that one the boats had been in the Cuyuni River which is part of Guyana’s territory.

Throughout his 35-minute address to the United Nations General Assembly, he stressed the importance of peace globally and especially in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Speaking several hours after Guyana’s President David Granger called for the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award to be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Venezuelan President  barely referred to talks he held with the Guyanese leader. He thanked the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon for organizing those talks with Granger at Venezuela’s request. “Some issues arose there which would have to be resolved and I appreciate that Ban Ki Moon responded to the request from Venezuela and last Sunday…

“The diplomacy of peace did prevail and we were able to take a positive decision and resolve the issue and so the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela continues to have to deal with these difficult challenges but we approach all of these issues with the diplomacy of peace and through dialogue and communication we are trying to avert threats to our people,” he said.

It was in those talks that Maduro agreed to resume diplomatic relations by sending back his Ambassador to Georgetown and granting approval for Cheryl Miles to be accredited as Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela. The Venezuelan leader has also agreed to allow a UN fact-finding mission to visit Caracas and then report back to the UN Chief after which a decision would be made.

Guyana continues to push for a juridical settlement of the controversy.

For his part, the Guyanese leader earlier Tuesday protested vehemently Venezuela’s history of aggression and military incursion to press its claim to the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo Region and the Atlantic waters off that section of Guyana.

Granger cited instances over the last 50 years in which Venezuela has either discouraged or kicked out companies that have been exploring for oil offshore.