UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – A UN mission will travel to Venezuela and Guyana to promote dialogue between them over a border dispute, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.
Maduro made the remarks after meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who the Venezuelan said had promised to “immediately activate a commission” to visit both countries.
Venezuela has asked Ban to name someone whose “good offices” could be used to try to resolve the dispute over the Essequibo territory, which encompasses two thirds of Guyana.
Maduro also said Ban had pledged to try to arrange a meeting between the leaders of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.
The dispute, which dates from the early 19th century, began heating up two months ago after ExxonMobil reported making a significant oil find in an offshore concession granted by Guyana that Venezuela claims is in disputed waters.
Maduro lashed out at Guyana’s President David Granger for engaging in an “aggressive provocation.”
“Sooner or later he will have to rectify a position that hurts the very people of Guyana,” said Maduro.
The Venezuelan president made the surprise visit to Ban after Granger on Friday addressed a US think tank in Washington, denouncing what he said was “a challenge to (Guyana’s) survival by a larger state.”
Granger warned the conflict could spill over if not dealt with quickly.
“The present threat, if not resolved promptly, if not resolved permanently, if not resolved peacefully could lead to deterioration of the security situation in the entire Caribbean and on the northern tier of the South American continent,” he said.