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Venezuela’s Maduro in US to seek UN help with Guyana

July 28, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday to ask for support in finding a solution to a territorial dispute with neighboring Guyana.

Maduro told reporters he had discussed ways Ban might help resolve the border dispute with the much smaller Guyana over an area where a new oil discovery has been made.

He called the meeting fruitful and said Ban was willing to send a U.N. commission to the two South American countries to mediate. Maduro also raised the possibility of him meeting with Guyana’s president.

In a statement, Ban said the U.N. was ready to “discuss the way forward with both governments.”

Venezuela long has claimed most of Guyana, including an offshore area where the Exxon Mobil Corp. recently announced it made a significant oil discovery.

The Maduro administration issued a decree soon after that announcement extending Venezuela’s territorial claims farther out into the Atlantic to encompass the area where the discovery was made.

Guyana President David Granger responded that his country would seek to resolve the border issue with an international judicial settlement.

Both presidents have affirmed that the conflict will be settled without violence.

The dispute stems from an 1899 court ruling that required Venezuela to relinquish an undeveloped but resource-rich jungle territory called the Essequibo that constitutes about two-thirds of Guyanese territory.

Venezuela contends the ruling was invalid, and many official maps still describe the Essequibo as Venezuelan territory. Guyana says Venezuela pledged to abide by the ruling, but later reneged.

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