President of Guyana David Granger and President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro are expected to be in attendance at a meeting today, organised by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Director of Communica-tions Mark Archer said last evening.
Over the past few days it had been reported that Maduro had called for a meeting, but there was no confirmation on whether Granger had been formally approached.
Contacted for clarity, Archer who has knowledge of the president’s schedule, told Stabroek News that the UN Secretary General had organised a meeting for today and it is expected that both presidents will be in attendance.
The meeting will no doubt deal with the ongoing border controversy, which escalated recently with armed Venezuelan troops pooling at locations close to the Guyana/ Venezuela border and armed boats belonging to Venezuela traversing the Cuyuni River which falls within Guyana’s territory.
Stabroek News was told subsequently that the meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 pm at the UN headquarters in New York. Granger is to make his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday and will return to Guyana the following day.
In May this year, Maduro issued a Decree claiming most of Guyana’s territorial waters along the Essequibo Coast, thereby triggering a deterioration in relations with Guyana. That Decree was subsequently withdrawn and replaced with a new one that was still offensive. The initial decree was issued after United States-based oil company Exxon Mobil announced that it had discovered significant evidence of oil in the Stabroek Bloc offshore Demerara.
Last week, Venezuelan media reports said Maduro had ordered the suspension of the process to accredit Guyana’s named Ambassa-dor to Venezuela Marilyn Cheryl Miles.
On Tuesday last, after the swearing in of the PPP Gecom commissioners Granger had informed the media of an increased Venezuelan military presence at the border. Granger said he found the act “extraordinary and abnormal.”
Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips on Wednes-day acknowledged during a press conference that it was the GDF that had alerted the government to the situation and that it was monitoring what was happening. He also stated that there was a Venezuelan marine presence in the Cuyuni.
He had made it clear that while all army bases are on alert, there are no current moves to deploy reinforcements to the country’s borders.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon who was present at the same press conference explained that the GDF was monitoring the situation to define when there is aggression, so as to pass it on to government, for them to take necessary diplomatic and other measures.
“Once we define that aggression, that information passes up the channel to our diplomatic representatives who actually take it to the next level,” the former Lieutenant Colonel said.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has since voiced disapproval of local military manoeuvres that were undertaken on Friday and yesterday by the GDF, saying it sent the wrong signal.