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Nov 8, 2000

Belize and Guatemala agree on border measures

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In news out of Washington of a more immediate nature, the region’s diplomats are all smiles as delegations from Belize and Guatemala have reached agreement on the way forward for the resolution of their long standing dispute. At OAS headquarters today, the two countries adopted a comprehensive set of confidence building measures to avoid conflict along their common border. The twelve-point plan, while not formally delineating the actual borderline, at least recognizes that for the purpose of easing tensions, the traditional boundary will be used. Under the plan all persons living within one kilometre of the border will be identified and no new settlers allowed. At the same time security forces of both countries will co-ordinate their activities, and communities along the frontier will be encouraged to interact peacefully while at the same time recognizing their respective national identities. Head of the Belize delegation, Ambassador Assad Shoman addressed the OAS Permanent Council immediately after the conclusion of the talks.

Voice of Assad Shoman from Washington

“Why should we allow ourselves to be trapped in this blast from the past, in the ignominious hard times of a bygone and disreputable era of racism and imperialism? And then I travelled four decades into the future and I saw people I recognised, people like myself and other Belizeans. People like my friend Gabriel and other Guatemalans living and working together in peace and harmony, united by our common aspirations to bring development and justice to our peoples, and together facing a globalised world and fighting for our place in it with dignity and solidarity. And I ask myself, how can we allow ourselves to limit our future by not seizing the opportunity now to put aside our inherited and senseless differences? That transition need not be difficult, need not be painful if we are capable of moving in the next phase with the same spirit of conciliation and urgency that has so far guided this process, we should be able to report to you before too long that two American brothers are at last together in the same trench, fighting for the common rights of their peoples.”

Head of the Guatemala delegation was Foreign Minister Gabriel Orellana. The OAS also established a special fund to help pay for the negotiating process.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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