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Guyana & Venezuela restore ambassadors despite border row

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, David Granger, met in New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: BBC NEWS
Ban Ki-moon mediated at the meeting between David Granger (left) and Nicolas Maduro (right). Photo: AFP
Ban Ki-moon mediated at the meeting between David Granger (left) and Nicolas Maduro (right). Photo: AFP
BBC NEWS

Guyana and Venezuela agreed on Sunday to restore their respective ambassadors despite a continuing border dispute.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, David Granger, met in New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

Tensions between the two neighbours rose this year when Venezuela demanded that Guyana stop oil exploration in a disputed area.

The dispute goes back to an 1899 ruling, which Venezuela says is unfair.

It centres on the mineral-rich region west of the Essequibo river, which accounts for about 40% of Guyana's territory.

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro (second from left), United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) and President of Guyana David Granger (right) talk during their tri-level meeting on 27 September 2015President Maduro (second from left) described the meeting as "tense"

An international tribunal ruled in 1899 that the area formed part of Guyana, which at the time was a British colony.

But Venezuela does not accept that ruling and argues that the area is still in dispute.

In May, US oil giant Exxon Mobil said it had made "a significant oil discovery" in waters off the disputed area, after it was granted a licence by the Guyanese government.

Venezuela demanded that exploration be halted and accused Exxon of fomenting strife between the two South American neighbours.

Restoring ties

In July, Venezuela recalled its ambassador and earlier this month stalled its acceptance of Guyana's nominee for ambassador to Caracas.

On Sunday, President Maduro said that Venezuela would restore its ambassador to Georgetown "immediately" and accept Guyana's nominee.

He described his meeting with President Granger as "complex, tense, difficult", but insisted Venezuela was "not an imperialist country" and that he wanted to restore "brotherly relations" with its eastern neighbour.

President Granger thanked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for mediating at the meeting, which he said "afforded both sides the opportunity to explain their individual positions".

Last week, Mr Granger accused Venezuela of conducting an "extraordinary escalation of Venezuelan military activity" near the disputed area.

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