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May 5, 2016

Prime Minister Calls Press Conference to Provide Update on Bi-lateral Meetings

Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister of Belize called a press conference this evening, ostensibly for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to report on meetings held with Guatemala and the O.A.S. in Washington. We’ll have all that for you tonight, though we warn that it isn’t really all that, strictly speaking. We start tonight’s coverage with a statement from PM Barrow in which he makes very particular reference to a communique issued by O.A.S. Secretary-General Luis Almagro on Wednesday. In that communique Almagro asks both countries to cooperate on the formulation of protocols in the Sarstoon. That doesn’t seem especially exciting or groundbreaking, but the Prime Minister has certainly pounced on it as a matter of great import.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“We greatly appreciate the O.A.S. Secretary-General’s statement last night, following his meeting with Belize and Guatemala, which makes clear that both nations are to “adopt a cooperation mechanism as soon as possible to normalize the situation in the Sarstoon River”. In other words, the two countries are to agree an operational protocol regarding the Sarstoon, and the statement commends their willingness to do this. As the S.G. put it, he “welcomed the readiness of both parties to advance in the negotiations of the cooperation mechanism” for the Sarstoon.G.O.B. regards the results of the Washington meeting as something of a breakthrough. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve a satisfactory outcome to the Sarstoon negotiations that have now been mandated between Belize and Guatemala. And we cannot rest content until those negotiations have been finally concluded and there is a formal agreement in writing. But there is no doubt that progress has been made. And that progress vindicates, among other things, the recent actions of our Government in placing a temporary ban on civilians going to the Sarstoon. We had made clear last Friday and Monday that we acted so as to forestall any possibility of damage to property or injury to persons occurring as a result of civilian entry into the cauldron of the Sarstoon.”

 

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