Today’s talks between Guyana’s President Irfan Ali and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro on their now-tense border conflict, ended with a public handshake and mutual willingness to continue the dialogue, with each stating his commitment to peace. Neither yielded an inch on their respective territorial claims, but that was not unexpected. Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) chairman St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, whose country hosted the talks, before the talks began cautioned that this would not be a one-day cricket match, but “a test match, and there will be other rounds and games, but the fact that they will be talking is very important.”
Heavy-duty regional participation was key to this first shift from escalating confrontation to dialogue. The heads of CELAC and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Gonsalves and Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, chaired the meeting. They were joined by Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s Special Foreign Policy Advisor Celso Amorim; Prime Ministers of Barbados Mia Mottley and of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley; and Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, among others present.
The two Presidents first met separately with the CARICOM leaders present, and then came together for face-to-face talks that lasted a little over two hours by all press accounts. The talks were behind closed doors.