Washington: Guyana`s territorial dispute with neighbouring Venezuela represents a threat to its very survival, President David Granger warned Friday in Washington.
After a recent offshore oil find, the row between the two countries has escalated, with Venezuela laying claim to a huge swathe of Guyana`s territory.
"Guyana at the moment is facing a challenge to its survival by a larger state," Granger told guests at the William Perry Centre of Hemispheric Defence Studies.
Caracas claims waters off the Essequibo region that would include the oil find. The region straddles the two countries and Venezuela disputes the settlement of the border drawn through the 215,000 square kilometre (83,000 square mile) region.
Granger warned the conflict could spill over if not dealt with quickly.
"The present threat, if not resolved promptly, if not resolved permanently, if not resolved peacefully could lead to deterioration of the security situation in the entire Caribbean and on the northern tier of the South American continent," he said.
"This is too much to bear for a country with fewer than a million people."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blamed America, including oil company Exxon Mobil, for provoking the dispute.
Speaking about Granger`s visit to Washington, Maduro pointed his finger at the oil giant.
"Who took him to Washington? Exxon Mobil," he said at a ceremony under the slogan, "The sun in Venezuela rises in Essequibo."
Guyana has asked for the United Nations to help resolve the border dispute.