Fri | Feb 28, 2020

New Guatemala president seeks meeting with PM Barrow

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:20 AM
Belizan Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington

BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC):

Belizan Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, says the newly installed president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei has indicated he wants to meet with Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a bit to strengthen relations between the two countries that have a decades old-border dispute between them.

Elrington earlier this month attended Giammattei’s inauguration and said that while the territorial dispute is headed for the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Giammattei has asked the Organisation of American States (OAS) to facilitate the discussions between the two leaders.

Meeting

“It will be a meeting between our prime minister and the president. I am sure he is disposed to that. Prime Minister Barrow is very disposed to that because that is the reason why we want to end the dispute so that we can get along and work with each other like normal presidents and prime ministers all over the world who meet in these summits,” Elrington said.

The Foreign Minister said that he heard the Guatemalan president on television saying that his country wanted to enhance trade and investment with Belize now that, in fact, the dispute is at the ICJ.

“We had already been advised long ago by our ambassador to Guatemala, Alexis Rosado, that Belize in terms of priority for Guatemala is very low. They don‘t regard the Belize/Guatemala dispute as a matter of high priority at all, but what they regard as is very important in relation to Belize and Guatemala is the opportunity for trade and investment.

“That is absolutely good news for Belize. It is consistent basically with what I have been hearing … and to hear the president articulate so clearly is excellent, excellent news because the lifeblood of any nation is its ability to trade and to have the opportunity to trade with Guatemala that has millions of citizens and which we can access simply by crossing the border,” Erlington added.

The two countries have had a long standing border dispute and both countries have voted in separate referendums to ask the ICJ in The Hague to make a decision on the dispute.