India, Sri Lanka hold ‘cordial, positive’ talks; fishermen issue discussed

  • HT Correspondent, None, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2015 23:27 IST

In his first visit after the election results, Sri Lanka's foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera and Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj held ‘cordial, positive and substantive' discussions on Sunday. The talks, which spanned three hours, covered bilateral cooperation, political reconciliation within Sri Lanka, Indian development partnership projects and fishermen related issues.

The Sri Lankan foreign minister said that the choice of Delhi as his first destination outside reflected the priority the new government laid on bilateral ties. Colombo also sees India as an opportunity for economic advancement.

He invited Swaraj, who agreed, to further bilateral talks. A meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint commission, which last met in January 2012, is also expected soon. The meeting also paved the way for a visit by the new Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, to India soon.

The MEA said that India and Sri Lanka agreed to re-engage on the issue of repatriation of refugees currently in India back to Sri Lanka. A meeting on this between the concerned officials is targeted to be held before the end of this month.

On the issue of fishermen, Sri Lanka indicated that efforts are underway on matters relating to the release of boats. It was also proposed to have a meeting of the fishermen’s associations of the two countries at an early date to discuss how to address longer term goal in this regard.

The two sides agreed that in the interim, the matter 'needed to be dealt with in a humane manner taking into consideration the humanitarian aspects of the livelihoods of those involved'.

Samaraweera also briefed Swaraj on the constitutional reform efforts initiative by the new government. The visiting Minister will also be calling on the Prime Minister and holding discussions with the National Security Advisor on Monday.

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