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* Sri Lanka, India fishermen level talks in doubt as Indian fishermen continue poaching
Sun, Mar 23, 2014, 12:52 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 23, Colombo: The second round of fishermen level talks that were scheduled for Tuesday is unlikely to take place as Sri Lanka has decided not to release the Indian fishermen arrested for continuing to poach in Sri Lankan waters despite an agreement reached earlier.

Sri Lanka's Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne has said that any Indian fishermen arrested for poaching will not be released on humanitarian grounds until proper talks are held either with Tamil Nadu officials or with Indian central government officials.

The Minister has said that the government has decided not to release anymore Indian fishermen as Tamil Nadu fisheries authorities have not been able to stop their fishermen from violating the agreement reached during the first round of talks not to invade each other's waters.

The Minister has said that there is no use of having talks with Tamil Nadu fishermen and officials if they keep violating the agreements reached during previous discussions.

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has demanded that Sri Lanka release all the Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy before the second round of talks between the fishermen associations of the two countries were to take place.

The Tamil Nadu State government fixed March 25th date for the second round of talks, which were scheduled to be held on March 13th, since Sri Lanka did not release all the Indian fishermen and their boats detained in Sri Lanka before the talks as the Tamil Nadu government demanded.

Sri Lanka in a hurry released all 172 fishermen held in the island's jails and 31 boats on March 17th but a day later arrested 75 Indian fishermen along with 18 vessels for trespassing into the Sri Lankan waters.

"We were earlier assured that the Indian authorities would ensure that there would be no poaching during this month as the two sides were planning to have discussions on resolving the issue. But this is not happening," Minister Senaratne was quoted in local media as saying.

According to the Minister since the assurance was given, there had been nine incidents where 214 Indian fishermen were arrested and their boats seized by the Sri Lankan Navy.

The Minister has warned that Sri Lanka will continue to arrest the Indian fishermen if they poach in Sri Lankan waters.

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