Jan 12, Colombo: A Sri Lankan delegation headed by the Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne will leave the country for India on Tuesday (January 14) to hold discussions on the cooperation in fishing issues.
The Sri Lankan delegation is leaving for New Delhi to prepare a new fisheries cooperation plan between India and Sri Lanka, the state media said.
Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries Dr. D.M.R.B Dissanayake has told state-run radio that the tour has been organized according to an invitation extended by the Indian government.
Minister Senaratne is scheduled to meet with the Union Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar, under whose purview the fisheries come, on January 15 to hold the talks between the two sides.
The two countries are expected to find an amicable solution to the nagging issues of fishermen from both countries crossing into each other's territorial waters and subsequent arrests of the fishermen by the authorities on both sides.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state of India yesterday directed the state authorities to release the 34 vessels and 179 Sri Lankan fishermen in custody as a welcome gesture for talks and expected Sri Lanka to follow suit and release the Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lanka's jails.
However, Minister Senaratne said when all Sri Lankan fishermen are released from Indian jails Sri Lanka will immediately release the Indian fishermen. Another 34 Sri Lankan fishermen are jailed Andhra Pradesh.
"Our Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris is talking to India regarding the release of our fishermen in Andhra Pradesh. Once all our fishermen - 179 in Tamil Nadu and 34 in Andhra Pradesh are released, we will release all the 275 Indian fishermen immediately," Minister Senaratne told The Hindu on Sunday.
Minister Peiris is expected to visit New Delhi later this month to meet the diplomats accredited to Sri Lanka but based in New Delhi to aware them of the government's progress on implementing the LLRC recommendations. He will also meet top Indian government officials during his visit, Sri Lanka's Ministry of External Affairs said.
Following the ministerial level talks on the fishermen issue, representatives of the fishermen's associations in Sri Lanka and India will meet on January 20 in Chennai to iron out a solution among themselves to share the resources in the seas between the two countries.