| MEXICO CITY
MEXICO CITY Dec 1 The presidents of Colombia
and Nicaragua on Saturday both said they hoped to avoid war and
use dialogue instead to solve a dispute over a recent U.N. court
ruling that shifted some of Colombia's resource-rich water to
the Central America country.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier
this month shocked Colombia by giving a large expanse of its
fishing and potentially oil rich maritime territory to Nicaragua
while handing some disputed islands to Colombia in a binding
Nicaragua's economic exclusion zone in the Caribbean was
expanded by the ruling, giving it access to potential offshore
oil and gas deposits as well as fishing rights.
Since the ruling, Colombia has withdrawn from a treaty that
bounds the country to the U.N. court's decisions, and both
nations now have warships in the disputed waters.
"We are totally discarding the use of force," said
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, speaking on the sidelines of
the inauguration of new Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in
Mexico City. He added that the country would use communication
to achieve peace in the dispute.
Colombia's Santos echoed Ortega, but he did not take war off
the table completely.
"Of course no one wants a war, that is a last resort ... The
way to fix these types of situations is by entering into
dialogue," said Santos.
He also took pains to note that Colombia would keep seeking
to "reestablish the rights that this decision violated," through
the international court itself and international diplomacy.
The court decision angered Colombians who have staged
marches nationwide in protest and called for Santos to defy the
ruling and maintain the sovereign territory.
Thousands of Colombians living on islands between the two
nations rely on fishing rights in the Caribbean waters and are
worried the ruling will ruin their livelihood.
Nicaragua's Ortega has said he expects Colombia to recognize
the court's decision.