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Venezuela Rejects UN Secretary-General's Comments on Essequibo Dispute

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Hadeel Hashem
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Venezuela Rejects UN Secretary-General's Comments on Essequibo Dispute

In a recent development, Yvan Gil, the foreign minister serving under Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, issued a statement rejecting recent remarks by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, about the territorial dispute between Venezuela and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana over the Essequibo region. Gil calls Guterres' comments 'illegal and biased,' accusing the Secretary-General of trying to coerce Venezuela into recognizing the mandatory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the matter.

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Venezuela's Stance

Gil maintains that any method for resolving the dispute should be explicitly approved by both countries and accuses Guterres of altering previous commitments in Guyana's favor, protecting the interests of Exxon Mobil and the United States. The Essequibo region, rich in oil and minerals, has been a point of contention between the two nations for years. The matter escalated after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro directed the country's state-owned companies to begin exploration and exploitation of resources in the region, which Venezuela claims as its own.

Response from the United Nations

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Responding to the situation, Guterres emphasized that the rulings of the ICJ are binding and expressed his confidence in both states duly observing the court's decision. He reiterated the court's recent ruling barring parties from any action that 'might aggravate or extend the dispute or make it more difficult to resolve.' This came in the wake of accusations from Guyana's President Irfaan Ali that Venezuela is defying the ICJ's ruling.

Escalating Tensions

The long-running dispute over Essequibo, administered by Guyana for over a century and comprising some two-thirds of its territory, has intensified since ExxonMobil discovered oil there in 2015. The recent actions of Venezuela have led to an escalation of tensions, with Guyanese President Irfaan Ali calling Maduro's statements a 'direct threat' against his country and expressing intention to seek relief from the UN Security Council. Amidst the escalating tensions, both nations have agreed to keep 'communication channels open.'

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