September 19, 2000

English delegation praises Guatemala's efforts to end border dispute

                 GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Visiting members of the English parliament said
                 Monday they were impressed with Guatemala's efforts toward a peaceful solution
                 to its festering border dispute with neighboring Belize.

                 Five members of England's parliament and one member of its House of Lords
                 arrived here Monday night for a five-day visit with top Guatemalan officials to
                 discuss the environment, children's rights and the conflict with Belize.

                 "Since we've been here we've heard nothing to make us believe that the
                 Guatemalan government doesn't want to settle this dispute through dialogue,"
                 Christine Russell of the Labor Party said. "The attitude here has been let's talk this

                 In January, Belizean border guards killed two Guatemalans, reigniting a
                 century-old border dispute in which Guatemala claims some or all of Belize's

                 Both countries signed an agreement in June brokered by the Organization of
                 American States designed to stabilize political and trade relations between the
                 nations and improve communications between their military forces.

                 But on September 8 Guatemala began fortifying its border with Belize after
                 farmers complained that Belizean soldiers had crossed illegally into Guatemalan
                 territory and threatened them. Last week Guatemala's Minister of Foreign
                 Relations presented a diplomatic complaint about the incident to the Belizean

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.