Sri Lanka rejects Indian request to release boats

Mahinda AmaraweeraThe Government has reportedly turned down a request from India to release around 120 boats belonging to Indian fishermen, which were seized for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told The Sunday Leader that India has made a request to release the boats.

The Minister however said that the boats will not be released since they were seized for entering Sri Lankan waters illegally.

India’s Union Minister of State Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan had said last week the Indian Centre would secure the release of 115 boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Addressing media persons in Rameswaram after inspecting the newly laid Danushkodi Road, he said the ministerial-level meeting between India and Sri Lanka, scheduled for January 2, 2017, would discuss the contentious issue and secure the release of the boats, The Hindu newspaper had reported.

On the outcome of the recent fishermen and ministerial-level talks in New Delhi recently, Radhakrishnan, who was part of the Indian delegation, had said it was a good beginning and the first step towards finding a sustainable solution. India and Sri Lanka held Ministerial level talks on fishermen issues last weekend in New Delhi.

Indian External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera and Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Mahinda Amaraweera.

The Ministers exchanged views on possible mechanisms to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.

They agreed on the setting up of a Joint Working Group on Fisheries to meet every three months and a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months. The delegations would include representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Coast Guards and Navies of both countries.

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