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Dueling versions of New York meeting

Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2016. 8:07 p.m. CST

Dean BarrowBy Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Friday met with his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales in New York – where he said Morales agreed to de-escalate tensions along Belize’s borders with Guatemala. It happened in the margins of the signing of the UN Climate Change Agreement – which both leaders attended at the United Nations.

According to Barrow, who chaired a meeting of the National Security Council held late on Friday evening via telephone, he and Morales agreed that all measures will be taken to achieve such de-escalation. While awaiting the results of the inquiry, contact/dialogue must be maintained to ensure that there are no breaches of the peace that exists between Belize and Guatemala, he added.

The Prime Minister also reported that he has met with the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, the Secretary General of CARICOM and the Secretary General of the OAS. He plans to address the nation on Monday via press conference.

Meanwhile, in his own statement, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales makes no mention of any agreed de-escalation of tensions. Instead, Morales maintains a complete rejection of the BDF version of the shooting death of a Guatemalan Minor in the adjacency zone Wednesday.

Morales repeated his demand that the responsible soldier or soldiers be handed over to the relevant authorities for investigation. Furthermore, he says he reiterated to PM Barrow that Guatemala is tired of the BDF’s abuses against the Guatemalan civilians who live along the adjacency line.

Morales will meet with the OAS Secretary General in Washington today, Saturday, as well as with the Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in the latter case asking that agency to join in the investigation.

From the OAS, Morales says they will ask for a swift impartial investigation so that those responsible for the death are held accountable. A BDF platoon is taking out representatives from their adjacency zone office as well as police to the scene today.

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