Costa Rica and Nicaragua border talks continue to be fruitless

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    Henriette Jacobsen,

    Costa Rican and Nicaraguan governments met for the first time since October on Tuesday to discuss the border problems between the two countries. However, the meeting was marked by chaos, tensions and distrust.

    The meeting between the two governments was scheduled to be at the border at 10am on Tuesday, but was more than an hour delayed until the officials finally decided it was time to sit down and talk face-to-face. The discussions took place at the border town of Peñas Blancas though Nicaraguan officials refused to cross into Costa Rican territory and stayed in Nicaragua while Costa Rican officials remained in Costa Rica.

    Representatives from Guatemala and Mexico served as mediators at the bizarre bi-national event to which neither Nicaragua nor Costa Rica had sent top diplomatic officials. The Nicaraguan delegation was led by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Orlando Gómez Zamora and the Costa Rican group was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Roverssi. The two nations discussed how they will coordinate the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime in the border area for two hours before deciding to continue the talks in Guatemala on May 5.

    In March, Nicaragua and Costa Rica had been ordered by the International Court of Justice in The Hague to remove their troops from the border after a dispute about the San Juan river broke out in October last year. Costa Rica claimed that Nicaraguan troops had entered Costa Rican territory, and that Nicaragua’s dredging of the river was causing environmental damage in a nature reserve in Costa Rica. The world court then decided that Costa Rican and Nicaraguan officials should leave the disputed territory and that both parties should refrain from any action that could aggravate or extend the dispute.

    On Monday, Roverssi had publicly said “We will meet wherever they say they want to meet.” After the talks, Roverssi said the meeting had been “positive” and described it as “A small first step, constructive in the attempt to restore trust, which at present does not exist at this time.”

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