on Thursday expressed “growing concern” amid a tense border row between Venezuela and Guyana.
“If there’s one thing we don’t want here in South America it’s war,” Lula told a summit of South American ministers in Rio de Janeiro regarding the Essequibo crisis.
Venezuela held a referendum on Sunday where , an oil-rich region controlled by Guyana that borders Venezuela. Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has also directed state-owned gas firms to begin exploration efforts in Essequibo.
“We don’t need conflict. We need to build peace,” Lula said. has ramped up its military presence in the northern border region with Venezuela.
Lula said Brazil stands ready to assist in talks regarding Essequibo. Lula has earlier praised Venezuela’s Maduro, but he also has friendly ties with Guyanese President Irfaan Ali.
US to conduct military exercises, vows ‘unwavering support’ for Guyana
The United States, meanwhile, has taken a strong stance in favor of Guyana amid the crisis. The US announced joint military flight exercises with Guyana on Thursday.
“In collaboration with the Guyana Defense Force, the US Southern Command will conduct flight operations within Guyana on December 7,” the US Embassy in Guyana said. It added that the drills are part of “routine engagement and operations to enhance security partnership” with Guyana.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Thursday voiced “unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty” during a press conference. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Guyanese President Ali a day prior.
Venezuela has labeled the US-Guyana exercises as a “provocation.”
“We warn that we will not be diverted from our future actions for the recovery of Essequibo,” Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez posted on X, formerly Twitter.
How will the UN top court decide on Essequibo?
Essequibo currently composes around two-thirds of Guyanese territory, with 125,000 Guyanese citizens living in the region. US energy conglomerate ExxonMobil discovered a significant amount of oil in Essequibo’s offshore waters in 2015, leading to the current tensions between Venezuela and Guyana.
claims Essequibo is part of its territory because the region was part of its boundaries during the Spanish colonial era. International arbitrators in 1899 handed Essequibo to former British and Dutch colony Guyana, with the Guyanese government using this decision as its justification for control of the region.
Litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking a decision over the border dispute is pending. In the meantime, the ICJ has ordered Venezuela to refrain .
wd/sms (Reuters, AFP)
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