Venezuela, Guyana to Hold Talks on Disputed Essequibo Region, Foreign Ministry States

© AFP 2023 MARTIN SILVAAerial view of the Rupununi Savannah in western Guyana, near the border with Brazil and Venezuela, taken on April 12, 2023.
Aerial view of the Rupununi Savannah in western Guyana, near the border with Brazil and Venezuela, taken on April 12, 2023.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 10.12.2023
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - In December, a referendum was held in Venezuela to annex the disputed part of the oil-rich Essequibo territory. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced the annexation of the Essequibo region and is mobilizing the army.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held phone talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, as a result of which Caracas agreed to hold a meeting with Georgetown on the territorial dispute, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
"In these conversations, a proposal was received to hold a high-level meeting with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, which will be announced in the coming days, with the purpose of preserving our aspiration to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, without interference from external actors, in accordance with the agreements reached by both countries within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)," a statement, published by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil on X, read.
Maduro also held a conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "who pledged to promote efforts in favor of direct dialogue between the parties," the statement added.
On Sunday, Venezuelan broadcaster VTV published a letter from Gonsalves, which said that Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali would meet on December 14.
"The leadership of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) consider it necessary and desirable to facilitate the convening of a meeting of the presidents of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday, December 14, 2023," the letter read.
Gonsalves added that both leaders in negotiations with him agreed to a meeting under the auspices of CELAC and Caricom and also demanded Lula's presence. In this regard, an invitation was sent to the Brazilian president, Gonsalves said.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves as he arrives at the notification ceremony for the referendum about the future of a disputed territory with Guyana, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 06.12.2023
Venezuelan President Urges Parliament to Declare Disputed Essequibo Country's New State
Last week, Venezuela held a referendum in which almost 96% of the population voted in favor of incorporating the Essequibo region into the country. On Wednesday, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali said that Georgetown was considering Caracas' actions to incorporate Essequibo, which makes up two-thirds of the territory controlled by Guyana, a threat to the country's national security and would raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council.
Venezuela gained independence from Spain in 1845 and recognized Essequibo as part of its sovereign territory. In 1899, however, the United Kingdom filed and won an arbitration claim to recognize Essequibo as part of its then-Caribbean colony of British Guiana. Independent Guyana cited this Arbitral Award in its 2018 International Court of Justice suit against Venezuela, claiming sovereignty over the disputed territory.