By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo believes dialogue is the only way forward for Guyana to resolve the border controversy with Venezuela.
As such, he is encouraging President David Granger to meet with and discuss the issue with President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, in New York as they both will be present at the UN General Assembly meeting.
The President has already stated that he is willing to meet with Maduro sometime this weekend.
At a press conference held at Freedom House on Friday, September 25, Jagdeo said, “We can aggressively pursue the integrity of our borders and our sovereignty and we should do so with all the strength in our bodies, but at the same time we have to maintain a channel open for dialogue and we have to maintain trade flows and functional cooperation between our neigbours.”
The former President is of the view that rice farmers are suffering since Guyana lost Venezuela as a rice market. In this regard, he urged President Granger to ensure that the meeting occurs with Maduro.
“I believe it is only through dialogue that you can resolve problems and so I hope that that meeting will take place in New York, that it will lower tensions between our two countries and at the borders; it will allow us to resume functional cooperation and it will allow us to get back the rice market to Venezuela.
“Dialogue is the only way forward; there is no room for belligerence, pugnacious or arrogant foreign policy; in fact our only strength as a small country is in diplomacy and dialogue,” Jagdeo told the media.
At the weekend, there was a buildup of Venezuelan military personnel and equipment close to Guyana’s border, sending the government in defense mode and increasing tensions between the two countries.
However, Jagdeo said he was not briefed on the issue by the APNU+AFC government and refused to comment any further on the recent actions taken by the Maduro administration.
“Government has not contacted us…and I don’t want to say anything that would put the government in a difficult position,” the Opposition Leader said in response to a question.
He urged that the current government should not allow Venezuela to argue that Guyana is a belligerent nation; pointing out that if this country sends images across the world of its troops holding guns, then it undermines our diplomacy.
Additionally, the Opposition Leader reiterated that he is willing to participate in a Border Protection Committee, which is slated to established by the administration.