‘Our priority is peace, Guyana is not the aggressor’ – Pres. Ali tells Maduro

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

President Dr Irfaan Ali moments ago updated the media on his engagements so far today at the Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Head of State explained that he first met with a number of CARICOM heads where he made a presentation reiterating the government’s fundamental position in accepting the invitation to participate in the engagement, i.e. that the border controversy with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is not up for discussion, negotiation or deliberation.

Regarding his direct meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, President Ali explained the dialogue is still ongoing.

So far, however, he explained that both countries had the opportunity to outline their respective positions.

“The priority is peace and that every threat of force or the use of force must be denounced and that every party must take responsibility,” President Ali told a brief news conference.

“We made it very clear that Guyana is not the aggressor, Guyana is not seeking war, but Guyana deserves the right to work with all of our partners to ensure the defence of our country,” he added.

President Ali said as they move forward in the next phase of the meeting, he hopes the outcome will be for there to be respect for Guyana’s sovereignty.

He further explained to the press conference that, “within the sovereign space of Guyana, we will continue to do everything that promotes the development, advancement of our people and all the partnerships necessary to ensure the defence and protection of what is ours in accordance with international law.”

President Ali said he also made it clear to Maduro and his delegation that Guyana has all the right to exercise its sovereignty within its territorial space; to approve of and facilitate any development, any investment, any partnership, any training, any collaboration, any cooperation; the issuing of any licence… the granting of any concession within its territoirial and sovereign space.

President Ali added, “I made it clear that the controversy must be resolved at the ICJ (International Court of Justice), and we are unwavering and resolute in ensuring that Guyana’s case is presented, defended, and that the ICJ will issue its decision on the merits of the case, which of course is binding on all the parties.”

The Guyanese leader also outlined that the process leading to the ICJ is part of the Geneva Agreement, and that the Geneva Agreement provides for a UN Secretary General to determine where the controversy must be finally determined.

He posited that it is the UN Secretary General acting within the confines of the Geneva Agreement who determines that that place is the ICJ.

Nevertheless, President Ali explained that both parties committed to ensuring the region remains a zone of peace.

President Ali is accompanied by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Foreign Minister Hugh Todd, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud, among other officials.

Presidents Ali and Maduro are continuing discussions.

These talks were brokered by St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in his role as President Pro Tempore of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), and came in the wake of a discussion President Ali held with the leadership of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).