Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro welcomed Thursday’s meeting with Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a letter to the Vincentian Prime Dr Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Mr. Maduro said he hopes the high-level meeting will address the “main threats to the peace and stability” of the countries.
“Prime Minister and friend, I am fully committed to this dialogue that today calls us to reestablish the fundamental principles of peaceful coexistence between our countries…” Maduro said.
He, however, expressed a desire to discuss the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy. Venezuela’s pronouncements on Guyana, following a sham referendum, are what precipitated this meeting. Many argue that Venezuela has been acting aggressively and threatening the peace and stability of the region.
But President Ali has made it clear that the border controversy will not be discussed at this meeting. He has consistently said he is willing to engage his Venezuelan counterpart on any shared matter but not the controversy since that is squarely before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). At that court, Guyana seeks a final, binding settlement of the controversy, reaffirming that the 1899 Arbitral Award established the boundary between itself and Venezuela. In simple terms, Guyana wants the Court to determine, once and for all, that the Essequibo region is its own.
According to President Ali, his decision to participate in the meeting was made following a series of consultations with stakeholders, Guyana’s technical team, agents, lawyers and the Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton.
“From the inception, we made it very clear that on the issue of our border controversy, there is absolutely no compromise. This matter is before the ICJ and that is where it shall be settled. There are no negotiations on this. There is no compromise on this,” President Ali noted.
President Ali was on Friday urged to explore the possibility of a meeting with President Maduro during an emergency meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM.
And on Saturday, President Ali was approached by Dr Gonsalves on meeting with President Maduro.
The meeting will be held at 10:00 hrs in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It will be hosted by Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Heads of State of CARICOM, a United Nations Under-Secretary General and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).