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Citing Saint Lucia’s close friendship with Guyana and Venezuela, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre Monday described the border controversy between the two neighbours as a quarrel between Saint Lucia’s friends while urging a peaceful settlement.
“It’s a situation where we find ourselves among a quarrel among our friends and that is the reality of the situation,” Pierre told reporters on the margins of a Cabinet meeting.
“But again, we believe that controversy must be settled peacefully,” the Prime Minister told reporters.
“We are calling for discussion and dialogue,” Pierre explained.
“We are asking for both parties to respect international law,” he said.
Pierre recalled Guyana saying it would accept the International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction, but Venezuela has not.
Pierre also stated that actions should not escalate the border controversy.
In addition, he urged maintaining the region as a zone of peace.
Pierre said he was pleased about a Thursday meeting between Presidents Irfaan Ali and Nicolas Maduro in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
On Sunday, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Guyana-born Sir Shridath Ramphal, warned against false expectations.
Ramphal emphasised the need to understand the limit of the talks.
The former Commonwealth Secretary-General observed that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were aware that the Guyana-Venezuela matter was before the ICJ, the proceedings of which could not be compromised.
As a result, he noted that the regional leaders had called for ‘appropriate dialogue’ between the Guyana and Venezuela leaders to ensure peaceful co-existence, respect for international law, and avoiding the use or threats of force.
“There was no call for a discussion of the Venezuela controversy over the Essequibo region of Guyana,” Ramphal stated.
For his part, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali has reiterated that Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion, as it is before the ICJ.
Ali said when adjudicated, Guyana would fully respect the outcome.
“The President, on numerous occasions, has made it explicitly clear that the case before the ICJ will not be an issue for bilateral discussions,” a statement on Ali’s Facebook page declared.