Brazil has agreed to sell maritime patrol planes and armored personnel carriers to Guyana, according to visiting officials of that country, which is engaged in a heated territorial dispute with Venezuela.
Guyanese President Forbes Burnham, whose Minnesota-sized country in the northern corner of South America also borders Brazil, said he was "satisfied" with cooperation agreements signed during two days of talks with Brazilian President Joao Baptista Figueiredo.
Brazil stopped short of providing firm diplomatic support for Guyana in the border dispute. Guyana says Venezuela is threatening the use of force to occupy the third of Guyana -- a zone known as Essequibo -- that is in dispute.
Although Burnham said at a press conference that he had not discussed the issue of arms sales with Figueiredo, Guyanese officials said an agreement was made to supply an undisclosed but small number of Brazilian-made Bandeirante maritime patrol planes and armored personnel carriers. Guyana, which was a British colony until 1966, charges that its border is being repeatedly violated by Venezuela's overwhelmingly superior armed forces.
This is Brazil's first arms sale to Guyana, which has close ties with Cuba. Burnham repeated here that he would seek aid from any friendly country, including Cuba, in the dispute with Venezuela.
Brazil last year sold more than $1 billion in weapons, mostly in the Middle East. It sold Argentina patrol planes during the Falklands conflict of the same type that Guyana is to receive.
Burnham and Figueiredo also signed an agreement to build a road across the Essequibo region. Figueiredo stressed the importance of judicial settlements to disputes, but he did not give Guyana "unqualified support," said Guyanese Ambassador Lionel Samuels.
Like the Falklands dispute, the Essequibo conflict is an unresolved relic of Britain's colonial history. Britain conquered the Essequibo from the Dutch in 1803. Venezuela, which firmly backed Argentina's invasion of the Falklands, maintains that Essequibo is part of the old Spanish empire. Hence its claim.