Border row talks shift to Jamaica
From Sharief Khan at the 21st CARICOM summit in Canouan

Guyana Chronicle
July 6, 2000

TALKS on the "most urgent outstanding issues" in the border dispute between Guyana and Suriname are to continue within a week in Jamaica, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced last night.

Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will continue as facilitator in the face-to-face talks started here between President Jagdeo and outgoing Suriname President Jules Wijdenbosch, and the return of the CGX Energy Inc oil rig to the offshore zone from which it was evicted by Suriname gunboats on June 3 is among the most urgent issues for the fresh round of talks, Mr Jagdeo said.

He said complications arose during the bilateral talks with Wijdenbosch saying the remaining life of his government was short and he did not have the mandate at this point in time to reach agreement in Canouan.

The President said Wijdenbosch assured he would have a mandate for a settlement at the scheduled meeting in Jamaica.

At a news briefing Wijdenbosch hosted after Mr Jagdeo announced the fresh meeting to a news conference, his Natural Resources Minister Errol Alibux confirmed Wijdenbosch wanted to advise those forming the new government to replace his administration after he was defeated at general elections in May.

Wijdenbosch is to leave office this month but he said he would be able to do the necessary consultations in Suriname in time for the Jamaica meeting.

He said he would start those discussions today, adding, "I am sure that within seven days we will have all the information to start dialogue in Jamaica."

Alibux also confirmed that the return of the oil rig to the Eagle site from which Suriname gunboats forced it out was on the agenda for Jamaica.

"I am quite pleased there is a CARICOM presence" in this matter, President Jagdeo said. "The victory for us is having Prime Minister Patterson as facilitator," he said.

He said that after Wijdenbosch advised that he would have the mandate for the talks in Jamaica, he (President Jagdeo) asked Patterson to be the facilitator to "help us reach a definitive agreement".

President Jagdeo said he hopes the Jamaica meeting sets the tone for a definitive settlement.

The border commission of the two countries will also be activated to expedited its deliberations with CARICOM Chairman Sir James Mitchell as facilitator.

The late night announcements followed a long day of negotiations at several levels.

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