UK sends warship to Guyana amid Venezuela tensions

Britain will deploy a Royal Navy warship to Guyana in solidarity with the Commonwealth nation – as the South American country argues with Venezuela over jungle territory containing huge amounts of oil and gas.
HMS Trent – a ship used for “defence diplomacy” according to the government – will take part in joint exercises with Guyana after Christmas.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “HMS Trent will visit regional ally and Commonwealth partner Guyana later this month as part of a series of engagements in the region during her Atlantic patrol task deployment.”

The disputed region is Esequibo in western Guyana – a 62,000 square-mile area around the Essequibo river.

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Guyana and Venezuela both claim ownership of it – a dispute dating back to the late 19th century, when Guyana was still a British colony.

Venezuela renewed its claims to the land after 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas were found off the coast of Guyana in recent years.
Tensions have escalated since a referendum in Venezuela in early December, in which a huge majority of voters are said to have supported their government’s claim to Esequibo.

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The British warship is in Barbados over Christmas, then will head to Guyana for naval activities.
The ship is not expected to dock in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital.


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Foreign Office minister for the Americas and Caribbean, David Rutley, reinforced the UK’s support for the Commonwealth country on a visit earlier this month.
Mr Rutley said: “The border issue has been settled for over 120 years. Sovereign borders must be respected wherever they are in the world.”
He said Venezuela had promised to refrain from the use of force and any further escalation in the dispute.
He added that the UK would work internationally “to ensure the territorial integrity of Guyana is upheld”.
Earlier this month the US reaffirmed its support for Guyana’s sovereignty.

Source : Sky News