Residents navigate down the Wenamu River that separates Guyana from Venezuela AFP

The United Kingdom's minister for the Americas, Caribbean and Overseas Territories has welcomed the recent agreement signed between Venezuela and Guyana over the dispute regarding the Essequibo region, while backing the later nation.

David Rutley, who was visiting Guyana, said Monday, "I am in Guyana, a fellow Commonwealth member, to offer the UK's unequivocal backing to our Guyanese friends," as per the United Kingdom government's official website.

"The border issue has been settled for over 120 years. Sovereign borders must be respected wherever they are in the world," he added. "We welcome the recent agreement by Venezuela in St Vincent to refrain from the use of force and any further escalation."

Rutley noted that the U.K. will continue to work with partners in the Essequibo region alongside international bodies in order to ensure that the "territorial integrity of Guyana is upheld."

During the visit, Rutley met the ambassadors from the U.S., Canada and the European Union to discuss international support for Guyana.

The visit came after Guyana and Venezuela signed an agreement on Dec.14 to not escalate the tension over the 160,000 square kilometers (61776 sq. miles) region, Essequibo. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali met last week and agreed to set up a joint commission to solve this dispute.

The Essequibo was recognized as part of Guyana, but Venezuela claimed the territory and some offshore areas in recent years after Guyana discovered some major oil and gas in those areas.

The dispute escalated earlier this month when the Venezuelan regime on Dec. 3 "held a referendum asking voters to approve the incorporation of the Essequibo region of Guyana into Venezuela against the will of the people who live there" as per the U.K. government's statement.

Essequibo region represented two-thirds of Guyana's territory, and the border was settled by international arbitration in 1899.

Rutley's visit to Guyana reaffirms the U.K.'s support for the country. During the visit, the minister will also meet President Ali and senior government and military officials to stress unequivocal backing for Guyana's territorial integrity.

The minister is also set to meet the Caribbean Community Secretary-General alongside business leaders to understand how they have been affected due to this ongoing border dispute between both countries.

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