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gob2Before midday today the Government of Belize issued a press release on the meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey where discussions for protocols for the Sarstoon was at the top of the agenda. There is no doubt that Belizeans were waiting anxiously for word on the outcome of that meeting attended by Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala Wilfred Elrington and Carlos Raul Morales, their delegations and representative of the Opposition Eamon Courtney. But after reading the Governments release we can simply state that Belizeans remain in the dark because while the release is quite lengthy…it does not mention any direct decision taken in reference to the Sarstoon.

The release states that “The Ministers recognized the need to avoid incidents between the two countries that affect the process of confidence building as agreed in 2000, 2003 and 2005. In this context they affirmed the need to work more in the development of building confidence, especially between the Armed Forces of both countries, including the possibility of having joint training for the troops responsible for patrolling the Adjacency Zone.

The release further mentions and we quote “Both Ministers recognized the urgent need for and committed to working on the design and development of a mechanism for cooperation in the Sarstoon River, which should include the participation of relevant institutions of both Parties and be coordinated by both Foreign Ministries with the participation of the Organization of American States.” End of quote.

According to the release both Foreign Ministers also expressed their commitment to peace and good faith and reiterated that the existing Territorial, Insular and Maritime differendum should be resolved by the International Court of Justice, once approved by the required referenda.

During the meeting the importance of keeping in line with the thirteen agreements signed in Placencia, in December 2014 was also highlighted. The importance of maintaining the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone and the urgent need for funding to keep the office open was also discussed and it was concluded that both parties would seek the necessary funding.

So……that is it…that’s all the press release divulged. There is no indication when the next meeting will take place or even, as previously mentioned, any direct decision that will affect the Sarstoon.

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