No word from Foreign Ministry on agenda for talks with Venezuela

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry remains mum with respect to the agenda for today’s talks with Venezuelan officials on the seizure of a vessel in Guyana’s waters on October 10 and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashleigh Jackson believes that the talks should be more weighted towards the maritime boundaries rather than the event of last Thursday.

Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett is to meet her Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua at 14:00 hours today in Port of Spain.

While the MV Teknik Perdana – the seismic survey ship on assignment for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation – was on Tuesday released with its crew, its captain remains in custody having been charged with failing to respect the boundaries of a security zone. Guyana is insisting that the vessel was in its waters when it was seized and directed to Isla Margarita.

Jackson also is of the view that the talks that Minister Rodrigues-Birkett had with then Minister of External Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and now President Nicolas Maduro in 2011 on the border controversy must be resuscitated.

“When the (current) talks were announced the matter of the seizure of the ship seemed to be the most prominent issue now that that is out of the way I hope they can discuss the border issue,” said Jackson, speaking to the Stabroek News.

“The matter of the captain is in the courts and I am not sure that there is much that the foreign ministers can do about that. They will probably discuss what alternatives can be had…,” he said.

Jackson recalled that when Maduro was Foreign Minister, he and Rodriguez-Birkett met and discussed the border issue. “I think this time they will resume where they left off as it pertains to that agreement,” said the former Minister. “Then they had agreed that the maritime boundaries had not been settled,” he said.

“They will want to talk about how to avoid another incident…the future work of the (UN) Good Officer. I hope she is well briefed,” he said.

Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Elisabeth Harper said that Rodrigues-Birkett will be accompanied to today’s meeting in Trinidad with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister.

However up to news time, she was unable to disclose the names of the members of the party accompanying the Minister.

On September 30, 2011, then Venezuelan Foreign Minister Maduro and Rodrigues-Birkett following Guyana’s submitting of an application to extend its continental shelf, recommitted to the UN Good Offices process at a meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

That meeting had been convened following criticism in Venezuela about the Guyana application and the charge that Georgetown had gone outside the Good Offices process, which Guyana denied, saying that Caracas had been notified of the submission since May 2009.

A joint statement following those talks in 2011 stated that both Ministers recognized that the delineation of the maritime boundaries between their two states remained an outstanding issue and agreed that such delineation will require negotiations.

At that meeting the Ministers also acknowledged that relations were at a historically high level, characterised by respect, fraternity and solidarity, and concurred that Guyana and Venezuela develop cooperation projects in various areas.

On his visit here on August 31, 2013, President of Venezuela, Maduro recommitted to the Good Offices process and was fulsome in his rhetoric about the two countries putting aside the legacies of their past and working together in bonds of friendship and brotherhood.

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