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* Sri Lanka, India foreign ministers discuss bilateral relations, maritime security
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 10:59 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 29, Colombo: Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, who is on a three-day visit to India met his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss key bilateral issues.

The two ministers have held discussions on the entire range of bilateral issues including the India-funded development projects in Sri Lanka, especially in the Northern Province, increasing trade and economic cooperation and the fishermen issue.

They viewed the recent meeting in Chennai between the Fishermen's 'associations of the two countries as a first step in the right direction, and agreed to consider the proposals put forward by the fishermen's associations.

According to official sources, during the meeting Khurshid has emphasized that India attaches the highest importance to the safety, security and wellbeing of Indian fishermen, and thanked the Sri Lankan Minister for his personal efforts in ensuring the release of the Indian fishermen.

"It was agreed that the Governments of India and Sri Lanka will remain engaged to ensure that fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner," official sources told Indian media.

The two ministers have also discussed the issues relating to the progress of long term developmental projects in Sri Lanka undertaken by India, especially, the housing project to construct 50,000 houses for the displaced in the Northern Province.

Construction of 43,000 houses under the owner driven model was underway with more than 10,000 houses already completed in 2013 in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in the second phase of the flagship housing project by India.

The Ministers also reviewed the ongoing bilateral trade and economic cooperation as well as the growth in tourism on both sides. In this regard Sri Lanka would be the partner country at the Surajkund International Crafts Mela from 1-15 February, 2014.

The talks also focused on the satisfactory progress of the trilateral cooperation on maritime security among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, according to official sources.

The three countries view that it was important to raise the level of maritime cooperation between them in the current maritime security environment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

It was expected the two ministers would discuss the third US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka during their meeting. However, the official sources have not revealed any discussions on the issue except to say that the "issues of common interest that are likely to figure in forthcoming international meetings of which India and Sri Lanka are both members were also discussed."

During his stay, the Sri Lankan Minister will also meet envoys accredited to Sri Lanka but based in New Delhi to apprise them of the government's progress in resolving the human rights issues and the measures taken to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

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