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* Indian minister criticizes Sri Lankan Minister for remark on fishermen release
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 12:54 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 14, Chennai: India's Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan has criticized a statement made by Sri Lanka's Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne on the issue of fishermen release.

The Sri Lankan minister, who is scheduled to leave for New Delhi today for ministerial level talks on the fishermen issues, has told the Indian daily The Hindu that all the Indian fishermen would be freed only after India releases all the Sri Lankan fishermen detained in India's jails.

"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.

Union Minister Vasan has lashed out at Minister Senaratne for putting forth conditions for the release of Indian fishermen, a week before the Indo-Lanka talks on January 20 to resolve the fishermen row.

Vasan has said that such statements would only "vitiate the atmosphere before the much-awaited talks between the fishermen of two nations."

"It is an important issue and it should be resolved through talks, for which we have to create a conducive atmosphere," he was quoted as saying.

Calling Minister Senaratne's statement 'one-sided' and 'irresponsible', Vasan has asked the political leaders and officials to refrain from making such statements as everyone wants to bring home the fishermen and their boats immediately and safely.

Minister Senaratne is expected to meet the Union Minister of Agriculture Sahrad Pawar, who also handles the fisheries, Wednesday 15th January.

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