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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 17 2017 – The Guyana government Friday dismissed statements by the Energy and Petroleum Commission in Venezuela rejecting the oil operations in Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon told a news conference that the Guyana government remains faithful to the Good Officers Process to resolve the long–standing border controversy between the two countries amid the new claims being made by Venezuela.

According to a report in El Nacional – a Venezuelan newspaper, the Energy and Petroleum Commission of the National Assembly said that is convinced that the ongoing oil exploration violates the Geneva agreement of 1966 and Article 10 of The Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, “which clearly establishes the Venezuelan territory.”

Venezuela has been claiming Guyana’s territory for several decades although the issue was settled since 1899.

According to the report, the draft agreement was tabled by the vice-president of the parliamentary body, deputy for Zulia, Elías Matta, “who explained that as stipulated in Article 5 of the Geneva Agreement, no resource can be exploited if there is no agreement between both nations.”

The Commission wants the Venezuelan government to send this “agreement” to the new UN Good Officer for the Guyana/Venezuela conflict” and is calling for the immediate suspension of “all operations carried out within the maritime area corresponding to the territory in claim until the dispute is resolved.”

But Harmon told reporters “statements that are made by the parties in Venezuela, I suppose are statements that are meant to influence the process,” adding that Guyana remains committed to a resolution of the border dispute.

“We are very faithful to our commitment under this arrangement we would not wish anything to be done to derail that process,” Harmon said.

Last month, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, announced the appointment of a Norwegian diplomat as his personal Representative in the Good Offices Process on the border controversy.

The Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966 saw Guyana and Venezuela referring to the Secretary-General for a decision to settle the controversy that had arisen as the result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between Venezuela and what is now Guyana, is null and void.

If the dispute is not resolved by the end of the year, the UN Secretary General will choose the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the next means of settlement.

“We’ve always said that there is an agreement and therefore it should be dealt with by the International Court,” Harmon told reporters.

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