The Venezuelan and Guyanese foreign ministers met with a U.N. mediator to help reach an agreement over the long-disputed Esequibo region to which both countries lay claim.
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United Nations representative Dag Nylander from Norway mediated the meeting between Jorge Arreaza from Venezuela and Carl Greenidge from Guyana.
The three parties discussed the disputed land and options for a long-term settlement regarding the matter. Both countries are committed to employing the U.N. in order to reach a mutual agreement. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that if an accord isn’t reached by year’s end, the case will go to the International Court of Justice.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made an initial request for a U.N. Good Offices mediation in July 2015 after Guyana began exploratory measures to extract oil in the disputed Esequibo territory. Formal talks between the two countries and Nylander began in September.
Venezuela claims that the 159,542 square km of disputed land belongs to it since it broke from Spain in 1777. The Maduro administration also cites the Geneva Convention of 1966 as having established Venezuela as the rightful owner.
The government of Guyana claims that an 1899 declaration written up by the British government established the land as a part of Guyana when Guyana was still a British colony.
The Geneva Convention declared the British declaration null and Guyana’s seizure of the disputed land illegal. Esequibo is home to a wealth of forests and natural resources, including minerals and potential hydraulic energy and represents a third of Guyana’s territory.
It’s unknown when the next round of talks will take place.