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Jun 27, 2008

Belizean and Guatemalan diplomats to hold talks in Washington

When the last round of negotiations between Belize and Guatemala failed to resolve the matter of that country’s territorial claim to Belize, Secretary General of the O.A.S. Miguel Insulza, suggested that the issue would best be settled by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Both the Barrow administration and the Guatemalan government have decided to accept that recommendation and on Monday diplomats from Belize and Guatemala will begin a two-day meeting with Insulza in Washington D.C. to discuss the timeline and a roadmap to the I.C.J. A release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that a new team has been charged to conduct the delicate negotiations. The team is led by Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, Alfredo Martinez, and includes, attorney Eamon Courtenay, representing the People’s United Party; Cabinet Secretary James Murphy; C.E.O. in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado; Attorneys Hubert Elrington and Assad Shoman; Belize’s Ambassador to the O.A.S., Nestor Mendez, and David Gibson, who is now a consultant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both sides have agreed to keep their respective delegations small for the protracted process and as such only Martinez, Mendez, and Courtenay will huddle with the Guatemalan representatives. Years of negotiations and skillful diplomacy were unable to reach a settlement to the Guatemalan claim, but with the change of governments on both sides of the border, a framework on how to proceed is now beginning to take shape. But while both governments have accepted the O.A.S. recommendations, the matter will still have to go to the people in a referendum in the two countries.

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