Guyana willing to hold bilateral talks with Venezuela on other issues if Guyanese boats, crews are first released

Last updated on Saturday, 30 January 2021, 14:57 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali said on Saturday that Guyana was prepared to hold bilateral talks with Venezuela on matters other than the border dispute, but on condition that both fishing vessels and Guyanese-registered crew members must be released at once.

“While such discussions are welcome, especially if the UN Secretary-General wishes to play the role of good offices, a clear demonstration by Venezuela must precede any further acts of aggression against Guyana, including start with the release of the Guyanese fishermen and their ships, ”said the President.

This view by the Guyana government comes against the backdrop of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, saying that he reaffirmed his decision on January 30, 2018 to refer the border debate to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a means by which to argue the argument in accordance with the Geneva agreement of 1966.

President Ali said noting that the bilateral relationship between Guyana and Venezuela is “wider than the debate” should the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela wish to take advantage of the role of its good offices “to tackle other important issues”, remains available for that purpose. .

Insisting that Guyana was fully committed to the ICJ process to end the Venezuelan claim that the 1899 Arbitration Tribunal Award was void.

President Ali said Guyana would be willing to discuss issues of common interest with Venezuela. Dr. Ali said these would include dealing with the growing number of Venezuelans now seeking asylum in Guyana as well as how the two countries could co-operate to combat the COVID-19 pandemic “which has saved the our two countries. ”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd said his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza had assured him that crew members’ human rights were not violated and that they were being held in safety in Port Guiria. Mr Todd said they were not being held in a detention center and this would reduce their chances of contracting the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Guyana Defense Force (GDF) Chief of Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess said the Venezuelan Navy was first seen in Guyanese waters on January 14, 2021 and “intermittent” about 60 nautical miles east if the median line and about 25 nautical miles from the coast of Guyana.

Brigadier Bess said that the Venezuelan military was last seen in Guyanese waters on January 27, 2021. He said, “we continue to log their operations” to inform Guyana’s Foreign Ministry of their operations.

At the same time, he said the GDF also conducts patrols in Guyana’s Unique Economic Zone to ensure “our presence is felt” in addition to aerial patrols.