Map locating the disputed territory of Essequibo
Map locating the disputed territory of Essequibo, between Venezuela and Guyana. AFP

Guyana has asked the United States to help improve its defense capabilities, as territorial tension with neighboring country Venezuela over the Essequibo region continues to rise.

The news comes following two days of discussion between top Guyanese officials and deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere Daniel P. Erikson.

Erikson noted Wednesday the U.S. was all set to help the South American country create a better-equipped military in the upcoming months. However, no further details were shared regarding this, except that Guyana wanted to modernize its defense capabilities alongside cybersecurity.

The deputy assistant secretary of defense also said that the specialized training teams and security forces that visited Guyana last year will continue the same this year.

"One thing of great interest to us is ensuring that as Guyana looks to increase its defense capacities, it does so through a plan that is strategic, nested in its overall defense institutions, and sustainable over time," Erikson said, AP News reported.

The Western Hemisphere official further said that the Guyanese officials were productive, adding that the U.S. was well aware of the situation and knew the steps required to improve the defense capabilities in the country, which was struggling to protect itself from Venezuela.

"We are looking forward to working with them, especially deepening information sharing," he added. "We do recognize that Guyana's at a turning point in terms of its own economic development, in terms of the regional role that it is capable of playing, and so we want to make sure that our defense relationship with Guyana continues to meet the times as the situation in Guyana continues to evolve."

The Essequibo region represented two-thirds of Guyana's territory. Venezuela had claimed the territory and some offshore areas in recent years after Guyana discovered oil and gas in the region.

Venezuela and Guyana signed an agreement on Dec.14 to not escalate the tension over the 160,000 square kilometers (61,776 sq. miles) Essequibo region, which was recognized as part of Guyana.

Besides, the U.S., even the United Kingdom seems to be standing with Guyana.

Last month, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense announced that it would send a Royal Navy warship, HMS Trent, to Guyana's border. However, the department didn't mention Venezuela or the border dispute in the announcement.

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