Free Press Journal

India, Lanka discuss fishermen issue, reconciliation process


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today held detailed talks here with her Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris on key issues of fishermen, and reconciliation and accountability process as he briefed her on steps taken by his country to protect human rights.

They held talks on all “substantive issues of engagement” between the two countries, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said and noted that the contentious issue of fishermen was discussed for “some length” as the meeting coincided with the release of 37 Indian fishermen by Lanka.

Swaraj thanked Peiris for what India sees as “fast-track” approach viz-a-vis Indian fishermen in custody of Lankan government.

The Spokesperson observed that the current year has seen release of 805 Indian fishermen so far, highest in last five years and added that since the new government has come in power as many as 249 have been released.

During the meeting which lasted for over two hours, both sides stressed on the need for a mechanism to have a long-term solution of the issue.

On economic and trade ties, they discussed investments in each other’s country, the spokesperson said and referred to Sri Lankan investment of USD one billion in the project of Brandix Sri Lanka, one of the largest Sri Lankan apparel companies. Under it 1000 acre SEZ at Vishakapatnam will be developed to eventually draw investments of about USD 1 billion, and employment to 60,000 people.

During the meeting, Peiris also gave a “big presentation” to Swaraj about various measures taken by his government in the field of reconciliation and accountability process to protect human rights of various sections of the society including Tamils.

Significantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who held a bilateral meeting with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa a day after his swearing-in, had pitched for “early and full implementation” of the reconciliation process to meet the aspirations of Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

Swaraj and Peiris also had a “detailed” discussion over India’s developmental projects in Sri Lanka. In this context, Peiris also briefed her about the status of India-assisted coal power plant in Sampur, Trincomalee in terms of clearances, the project has received so far.a