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US military base may be deployed in Guyana, its president says

According to Muhammad Irfaan Ali, Guyana is monitoring everything Venezuela is doing

HAVANA, December 13. /TASS/. Guyana does not rule out the possibility of a US military base showing up in the country, in the Amazon River basin, in the wake of the escalation of the country’s territorial dispute with Venezuela, Guyanese President Muhammad Irfaan Ali said in an interview with BBC News Mundo and BBC News Brasil, the BBC’s regional branches.

"Whatever it takes with our bilateral partners, with our international partners to protect and secure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana, we will do it," Irfaan Ali said when asked if the Guyana government would allow a US base to be stationed in the country.

According to the president, Guyana is monitoring everything Venezuela is doing.

"We are looking at all intelligence and at the appropriate time we’ll make appropriate decisions. But whatever it takes <..>, we will do it," he explained.

In response to a follow-up question about a US military base, the president said he was hopeful that Guyana’s allies would provide any necessary assistance in "whatever shape or form it takes."

The radio station reported that Brazil’s government was not happy about the potential deployment of a foreign military base in Guyana.

Tensions over Essequibo

Venezuela’s National Assembly (parliament) on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill on the protection of Guyana-Essequibo within Venezuela on first reading, based on the results of a consultative referendum. The bill provides for the establishment of Venezuela’s 24th state of Guyana-Essequibo in the disputed territory. The US on Thursday announced the start of joint air exercises with Guyana's military amid the soaring tensions in the country's territorial dispute with Venezuela.

Venezuela and Guyana have been at odds over a 159,500-square-kilometer area that sits west of the Essequibo River for more than 100 years. The territory, known as Guyana Essequibo, makes up more than two-thirds of Guyana and is home to 283,000 of the country’s little more than 800,000 residents.

The dispute escalated in 2015, when oil fields containing at least 10 billion barrels were discovered in the area and Guyana granted a concession for the development of oil fields on the non-delimited shelf to ExxonMobil.