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    The Prime Minister of Belize, Mr. George Price, says his country will not cede territory?

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    SV AND CU Belize Premier Mr. George Price speaking. (3 shots)

    PRICE: "Historically Belize has always existed as it now exists, and we have said and the British government has repeatedly said that the claim of Guatemala are unfounded. And we have maintained that position for over 170 years. So now why when we are reaching the point with strong international support, why should we now agree to land cession? Guatemala which claims has more land than it can develop, has at least five or six times the area of land of Belize. And we are the owners of the land and we have people living, we are people with human rights. The rights to self-determine our future as a secure nation with its territorial integrity. So then why at this time should we be asked to pay the price of a settlement be ceding land which is almost a thousand square mile including mainland and seabed, larger than many countries of the Caribbean.

    We also feel that a land settlement would not be a lasting settlement, it will lead to future disputes. Future generations on one side would say; why did you give up so much and on the other side, why did you accept so little. And then there is the legal...there is the repercussion in the area, the Caribbean area, in the Americas. Once one country gives up land as a settlement there are other land disputes. I am thinking of Mexico's claim to the northern part of Belize, I am thinking of Venezuela's claim to the republic of Guyana."

    Belize has a total area of about 9,000 square miles and a population of 150,000. It has faced repeated territorial claims from Guatemala and Mexico and in July last year Britain sent troops and aircraft to Belize because of several incidents along the Guatemalan frontier. Mr. Price is currently trying to arrange a multi-national defence guarantee to protect Belize from the neighbours' claims. This follows the British government's recent refusal to agree a long term security arrangement after Belize becomes independent.

    Initials VS 16.30

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The Prime Minister of Belize, Mr. George Price, says his country will not cede territory to Guatemala. Mr. Price was speaking to newsmen after talks with British Foreign Secretary, Dr. David Owen. He added that any land cession would lead to other territorial disputes. Belize is Britain's remaining colony on the American mainland.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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