New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it believes the prickly border issue between Guyana and Venezuela should be resolved peacefully and escalatory steps should be avoided.

The MEA said it was closely following the developments pertaining to the border issue.

"We are aware that the matter is already being considered by the International Court of Justice," the MEA said in an official release.

"We welcome the recent regional diplomatic initiatives on the issue," it added.

Tensions have been mounting between Venezuela and Guyana in recent weeks due to a long-running border dispute over Esequibo, an area in Guyana where massive discoveries of offshore oil and gas have been made, according to Al Jazeera.

For decades, Venezuela has laid claim to Essequibo, claiming that the Essequibo River to the region's east forms a natural border and has historically been recognised as such, according to Al Jazeera.

The country's latest efforts to overtake the territory were piqued in 2015 when ExxonMobil announced that it had found oil in commercial quantities off the Essequibo coast.

Last weekend, voters in Venezuela also rejected the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) jurisdiction over the area, backing the creation of a new state.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also proposed a government meeting to send a Bill to the National Assembly for the creation of a 'Guyana Esequiba' province.

However, Guyana, of which Essequibo makes up more than two-thirds and hosts 125,000 of its 800,000 citizens, has administered the territory since the frontiers were determined by an arbitration panel in 1899, Al Jazeera reported.

Recently, it was reported that President Maduro will be meeting his Guyana counterpart Mohamed Irfaan Ali on December 14 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where they will be accompanied by Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves, as per Al Jazeera.

Venezuela's government said the meeting is aimed at preserving "our aspiration to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace".

The Office of the President of Guyana confirmed that Ali had agreed to the meeting, but added, "Guyana's land boundary is not up for discussion."

The regional blocs of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are mediating to bring the parties together.

Earlier on Saturday, Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has also been invited to Thursday's meeting as an observer, spoke to Maduro and called for dialogue, saying it was important to avoid unilateral measures that could escalate the situation, Al Jazeera reported.