CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says that he plans to meet with Guyanese President David Granger in New York to discuss a border dispute between the two South American neighbors.
Maduro said in a statement broadcast on state television late Thursday that the meeting will take place in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, with the support of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. did not immediately comment on the meeting.
The Venezuelan president's arrival in New York was reported by state media on Friday morning.
Granger is expected to address the issue Friday at the U.N. General Assembly gathering. He previously said that he no longer wants the dispute handled by a U.N. mediator and will seek intervention from the International Court of Justice.
Venezuela has long claimed a jungle area known as the Essequibo that comprises about 40 percent of Guyana's territory. The socialist country reasserted those claims this year after a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. announced a significant oil discovery off the coast of Guyana.
Since then, the two sides have scaled back on their shared commerce.
Guyana was conducting military exercises amid the border flap on Friday. Hundreds of soldiers assembled on all military bases as they prepared to march through the capital of Georgetown and other nearby towns. Guyana's government said troops will also stage parachute jumps outside the capital.
Granger had accused Maduro this week of massing troops on the border.
But Guyana Chief of Staff Brig. Gen Mark Phillips said Friday that the military was monitoring possible troop movements by Venezuela and "there is no evidence of any increase on the Venezuelan side."
Still, Phillips said, "we all remain ready - operationally ready to define aggression on our frontiers."