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Mar 26, 2002

Bz-Guat. settlement proposals unveil next month

The O.A.S. sponsored effort to resolve the Guatemalan claim to Belize continues to move toward what is hoped will be a successful conclusion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today announced that on April twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth the two facilitators in the process will make their proposals to representatives of both nations in Washington D.C. Those proposals, worked out in consultation with the two parties, are expected to confirm the existing land border and formalise Belize’s acceptance of a three-mile seaward boundary in the south, instead of the customary twelve-mile limit. The sweetener in the deal is an internationally financed development fund, led by the United Kingdom, to be used to enhance the life of residents in the areas adjoining the border. It is not known whether facilitators Sir Shridath Ramphal and Paul Reichler will make the document public, but since both countries are committed to submitting any settlement to a referendum, the proposals would have to be published eventually. Those referenda should be held before the end of this year, ideally on the same day. 2003 is an election year for both Belize and Guatemala and it is conceivable that those elections could come within weeks or even days of each other: that is sometime in November.

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