Ready for fishermen’s talks on March 12: Colombo

After an apparent push from New Delhi on scheduling talks between fishermen of India and Sri Lanka at the earliest, Colombo has suggested that the next round of discussions be held on March 12 in Chennai.

The decision follows a meeting between Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Y.K. Sinha and Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Minister Joseph Michael Perera in Colombo on Tuesday. “The Indian High Commissioner requested us to schedule the talks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka later this month,” Minister Perera told The Hindu .

The Palk Bay conflict was one of the key bilateral issues that President Maithripala Sirisena raised in New Delhi during his visit last month. Mr. Modi then emphasised the need to facilitate early resumption of talks between fishermen of both countries.

But Sri Lanka sought more time as the new government was pre-occupied with its 100-day programme, officials said.

22-07-EIS-B-8133However, New Delhi appears to be keen on scheduling the discussions before Mr. Modi’s scheduled visit between March 13 and 15.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Navy, keeping in mind the upcoming visit of Mr. Modi, had been lenient with the Indian fishermen, who were allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

But last week they arrested 86 Indian fishermen and detained 10 trawlers.

“The Navy will do its duty, and continue to arrest fishermen found poaching,” Mr. Perera said.

Colombo now awaits a confirmation from New Delhi on holding talks on March 12, Fisheries Secretary Nimal Hettiarachchi said.