Louisa Reynolds

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Belizes decision to grant four oil contracts in a border area known as the Adjacency Zone, which extends one kilometer on either side of the 1859 treaty line, could reignite tensions with neighboring Guatemala. During the past two years, Belize has granted 17 oil-exploration contracts--four in the Adjacency Zone--to a wide range of US, British, Irish, and Taiwanese corporations. Guatemalan Foreign Minister Haroldo Rodas explains that his country is currently claiming Belize's entire land, insular, and maritime territory, which is why it is important to monitor all oil-exploration activity in the Adjacency Zone. Rodas admits that there are no legal impediments for Belize to grant oil-exploration licenses in the border area but that Belize's activities cast doubt on its will to preserve a peaceful relationship with Guatemala as stated in the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures Between Belize and Guatemala, signed by both countries in 2005 under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS).'