Venezuela and Guyana have resolved a recent diplomatic flap stemming from the seizure of an oil ship in a disputed Atlantic area, pledging to work to define their maritime border.
Guyanese Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua "agreed to explore mechanisms under international law to address the topic of maritime delimitation," the Venezuela Foreign Ministry said Friday in a statement.
"Over the next four months, a technical team will meet to exchange opinions in that regard," the statement said.
Jaua and Rodrigues-Birkett met Thursday in Trinidad and Tobago to resolve the dispute stemming from last week's seizure of the Teknik Perdana - a Panamanian-flagged oil-exploration vessel owned by a Malaysian company.
Venezuela says the ship was in its Exclusive Economic Zone, while Guyana maintains it was illegally detained in its territorial waters.
The 36 crew members were arrested and the captain was charged with encroaching on Venezuela's EEZ, although all of the detainees were subsequently released.
Venezuela demanded an explanation and issued a statement expressing its "profound concern" over the way in which "foreign ships authorized by Guyana's government" are entering its territorial waters.
For its part, Guyana's government slammed the seizure of the ship, contracted by U.S.-based oil company Anadarko Petroleum Corp., and called it a "threat to peace" in the region.
In a joint statement issued Friday, the foreign ministers expressed their "satisfaction at the excellent relations" between the two neighbors, although they acknowledged that the delimitation of the maritime border "remains a pending matter" and "will require negotiations."
The ship was seized off the coast of Esequiba, a resource-rich 167,839-sq.-kilometer (64,800-acre) area that is administered by Guyana - and makes up three-fourths of its territory - but claimed by Venezuela.
The dispute over that region, which has been referred to U.N. mediation, dates back to the era when Guyana was a British colony and has continued since the country became independent in 1966.
Guyana's plans to grant oil permits in that maritime region have revived the controversy. EFE