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World

Krishna to meet Lanka FM over fishermen issue
PTI
Thimphu, February 06, 2011
First Published: 18:52 IST(6/2/2011)
Last Updated: 18:57 IST(6/2/2011)

Against the backdrop of the killing of some Tamil fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, India is expected to convey its concerns and press for an end to such incidents when external affairs minister S M Krishna meets his counterpart G L Peiris in Thimpu on Monday.

Krishna and Peiris will be meeting on the sidelines of SAARC Foreign Ministers' conference for which both are arriving here tomorrow, sources said on Sunday.

T S Tirumurti, joint secretary in the external affairs ministry who deals with Sri Lankan issues, is also coming in Thimpu specifically for the meeting, the sources said.

During the meeting, Krishna is expected to raise the issue of the recent incidents in which some fishermen were killed allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy and convey India's concerns, the sources said.

Krishna is expected to emphasise that Sri Lankan forces should desist from using force against the Indian fishermen to ensure that the relationship is not affected.

He is also likely to seek an update on the investigation ordered by the Sri Lankan government into these incidents in which the Lankan Navy had denied its involvement.

The two leaders are expected to discuss steps to resolve issues related to the fishermen, who are allegedly fired upon and killed when they trespass into Sri Lankan territorial waters.

There is a proposal to call a Joint Working Group on this issue in January and Krishna and Peiris are likely to discuss this too, the sources said.

A fisherman was killed and two others were injured while fishing off Kodiakarai coast on January 22, in the second such incident in a fortnight.

India has been angry at the repeated incidents in which the Tamil fishermen are killed, saying use of force against them was "unacceptable" and must be stopped.

"I hope that one thing is certain and one thing is common that regardless of whatever the circumstances are, use of force and killing fishermen has to be something part of history. It cannot be the present and the future. The Government of India is fully committed (to safeguard the rights)," Krishna had said last week.

Last week, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao went to Colombo to convey India's concerns to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"The two sides noted that the Joint Statement on Fishing Arrangements of 26th October 2008, which had put in place practical arrangements to deal with bona fide fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), had led to a decrease in incidents. They agreed on the need to discuss arrangements based on the current situation so as to strengthen the safety and security of the fishermen," said a joint statement issued after her meetings there.

"Accordingly, it was decided that the next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Fishing would be convened at an early date, which would, inter-alia, address various issues relating to fishing by the two sides.

"The Joint Working Group would also address the proposed Memorandum of Understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries. It was decided as well to enhance and promote contacts between the fishermen's associations on both sides, since such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial," the statement said.


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