"Island' talk for Caricom, Venezuela
BASSETERRE, St Kitts Caribbean foreign ministers will hold talks with Venezuela about the use of a tiny, uninhabited island that some believe sits near oil and natural gas deposits, an official said yesterday.
Venezuela has long maintained ownership of the disputed Isla de Aves, or Bird Island, which is located about 350 miles north oscloser to Eastern Caribbean islands such as Dominica and Antigua.
Charles Savarin, Dominica's Foreign Minister, said the key issues discussed at the talks would be where Aves' economic boundaries are in relation to nine Caribbean countries and whether it can be officially designated as an island or a rock under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea.
If designated as an island, an exclusive economic zone can be delineated for Aves which could impact the Eastern Caribbean. If it's determined to be a rock, such boundaries would not be needed, Savarin said.
The date for the meeting was not yet set, Savarin said.
Venezuela has defended its ownership of the island since 1865 and maintains its claim to the dry, treeless speck of land is undeniable.
It has a small outpost on the island shared by naval troops and scientists.
The United States, France and the Dominican Republic have recognised Venezuela's ownership. But some Eastern Caribbean leaders have argued Aves is not a true island but rather a sandbar, and that therefore Dominica has more of a claim to waters off the island. Dominica lies just 140 miles east of Aves. (AP)