Presidents Ali, Santokhi & Bolsonaro for Thursday meeting in Suriname 


By Kurt Campbell

As South American neighbours with major prospects in oil and gas, President Irfaan Ali of Guyana, President Chandrikapersaud Santokhi of Suriname and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro will meet on Thursday, January 20 for a working lunch.

That meeting will take place in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo after which the Brazilian Head of State is expected to travel to Guyana on the invitation of Dr. Ali.

While Guyanese authorities have released little details on the visit, a press release from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry (Governo do Brazil) noted that Bolsonaro will be in Georgetown on Friday, January 21.

Several government officials here confirmed the President’s visit to Suriname on Thursday.

The leaders are expected to hold talks on the bilateral agendas in areas such as trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, security, defence, technical cooperation and regional issues along with projects of common interest.

“The Presidential trip takes place in the context of strengthening bilateral relations, in a scenario of resumption of strategic dialogue between governments and of prospects for greater economic and social development in Suriname and Guyana, driven by recent discoveries of oil and gas,” the statement from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry noted.

Brazilian media reported that representatives of Petrobras (PETR4), the state-owned Brazilian multinational corporation in the petroleum industry, are expected to join Bolsonaro in the negotiations on oil and gas.

Earlier this month, President Ali talked up partnerships with neighbouring Brazil in the oil and gas industry and in bauxite mining ahead of the visit of Bolsonaro.

The two Presidents already engaged via teleconference where Dr. Ali emphasised that Guyana wants to have a very strong strategic partnership with its Portuguese-speaking neighbours.

The areas where President Ali believed that the two countries can strengthen their partnerships include energy and food security, telecommunication, infrastructure integration and trade.

He also talked up linking the two territories.

The Guyanese Head-of-State said that in addition to oil and gas, expanding opportunities in the other non-oil natural resources sector such as bauxite will create an opportunity for a direct link to northern Brazil and the Atlantic that can “create an excellent platform for us to develop an integrated project”.

It was only last month that President Ali announced that a massive regional summit featuring the leaders of Guyana, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana is scheduled for January and it is expected that the countries may agree on a framework for energy cooperation.

Additionally, in December, President Ali reminded Berbicians that there are massive bauxite deposits in Region Six and across the Corentyne River in Suriname.

It was reported that President Bolsonaro, via an interpreter, said that the agenda for discussion looks “very promising” and that he will ensure that technical staff from the relevant ministries in Brazil travel for the state visit.

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