The presidents of Guyana and Venezuela came to a resolution Thursday agreeing not to use force against each other and to resolve the ongoing Essequibo border dispute according to international law, following a day of talks in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Guyanese President Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met face to face along with Brazillian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, St. Vincent in the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley. The meeting also included representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).The resolution arrived at, called the Declaration of Argyle, explicitly stated that neither Guyana nor Venezuela would use force against each other in any dispute between the two nations. It also said that both nations will approach the controversy surrounding the Essequibo region, claimed by Venezuela but administered by Guyana, following the 1966 Geneva Agreement, which provided for a “mixed commission” to resolve the longstanding dispute. Accordingly, the parties say they will establish a “joint commission” to review the issue and produce an “update” within three months.Additionally, the two states agreed to “refrain, whether by words or deeds, from escalating any conflict or disagreement arising from any controversy between them.” In the event of an incident “on the ground,” the parties are to communicate with each other, CARICOM, CELAC and the president of Brazil.However, the document acknowledged differences between the two countries’ attitudes to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ took up the dispute in 2018 following a referral from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Venezuela refused to acknowledge the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the controversy in a referendum last week where Venezuelan voters endorsed the inclusion of Essequibo as a Venezuelan state. The vote was held two days after the ICJ ordered Venezuela to refrain from interfering with the Essequibo region, but the court stopped short of telling Venezuela to cancel its referendum. Guyana is continuing its case to keep the region before the ICJ.In the days following last week’s referendum, Brazil bolstered its military presence along the Venezuelan border, and Guyana put its armed forces on alert amid fears of a Venezuelan invasion.The Essequibo border dispute flared up in recent years after oil reserves in the disputed territory were discovered. Maduro ordered Venezuela’s state-run oil companies to look for petroleum in the region just two days after the country’s referendum. The controversy goes back to 1899 when a tribunal comprised of US, UK and Russian arbiters awarded the Essequibo region to Guyana. Venezuela instead argues that the award was superseded by the 1966 agreement.Representatives from both countries are slated to meet again in Brazil within the next three months.

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