“Prime Minister Modi stressed the need to develop a mechanism and find a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen straying into each other’s waters,” informed sources said, following a meeting in New Delhi between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The Ministry of External Affairs informed on Thursday that Sri Lanka currently holds 34 Indian fishermen and 96 Indian fishing boats in custody. In comparison, the MEA spokesperson said India has 13 Sri Lankan boats in custody and no Sri Lankan fishermen.
Creation of a dedicated mechanism has been in the making for several years but has not moved ahead. Modi and Sirisena reviewed a number of bilateral issues during their talks but the free trade agreement between the two countries which has been discussed earlier was not taken up.
Sirisena is in India to attend the Vaicharik Mahakumbh in Ujjain, an inter-faith event which will take place on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh. He will also visit Sanchi, where he will unveil a bust of Buddhist revivalist Anagarika Dharmapala.
A diplomat working on the inter-faith project which is indirectly supported by the government, said Sirisena’s visit is likely to provide an opportunity for India to deepen ties with Sri Lanka, especially in view of the growing Chinese influence over Colombo. (Colombo Gazette)