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Venezuela: Exxon-Mobil turning Guyana into US military base

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for direct talks with his Guyana counterpart over a disputed oil-rich border region . (File Photo)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Guyana on Monday of allowing Exxon Mobile to take over a long-disputed border region rich in oil.

During his weekly TV show, Maduro said that Exxon-Mobile, a company bidding for the offshore oil blocks, and the United States Southern Command were transforming Guyana into a US military base by taking control over the waters of the disputed Essequibo Strip.

Venezuelan President called for direct talks with his South American neighbor to resolve mounting tensions while calling Exxon Mobil's offshore oil exploration illegal.

"There is only one solution here and that is to resume dialogue, face to face, directly," Maduro said.

The diplomatic relations between the two nations have been strained due to the ongoing dispute over the Essequibo region, where Guyana has been conducting oil block auctions.

Venezuela has persistently maintained that the 160,000-square-kilometer area, currently under the administration of Guyana, rightfully belongs to its territory.

The century-long dispute escalated following the discovery of crude oil reserves in 2015 in the coastal region by the US-based oil conglomerate, Exxon Mobile.

On Saturday, Maduro accused Guyanese President Irfaan Ali of "transforming Guyana into an Exxon Mobil branch."

Guyana's actions, said Maduro, "violate international law and endanger peace in the region."

Recent findings have presented Guyana with the opportunity to emerge as one of the leading oil-producing nations in Latin America.

In April, the International Court of Justice rendered a decision affirming its jurisdiction over a matter that could potentially determine the rightful ownership of a territory abundant in oil and gas resources, particularly those located offshore.

During the United Nations session on Saturday, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Yvan Gil, officially announced that the National Assembly of Venezuela has granted approval for a consultative referendum regarding the ongoing territorial dispute.

The parliament of Venezuela recently put forth a proposition to arrange a referendum concerning the region, which subsequently led to Guyana summoning the Venezuelan ambassador.

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