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Modi-Rajapaksa talk on fishermen, MEA plays safe

Subramanian Swamy’s claim that India and Sri Lanka – after direct talks between PM Modi and President Rajpaksa on Sunday – had agreed on the transfer of five convicted Indian fishermen to an Indian prison drew an ambiguous response from the government.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2014 22:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had a telephonic conversation on Sunday about the issue of five Indian fishermen sentenced by a lower court in Sei Lanka. While the SL president's office confirmed the conversation, India has played safe by speaking of efforts to bring back the fishermen without any elaboration.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy too claimed on twitter that such a conversation took place and SL had agreed to transfer the fishermen to an Indian prison. The Colombo media highlighted this possibility too.

The Ministry of External Affairs said they were ‘pursuing all avenues’, but there was no ‘happy conclusion yet’, and asked for ‘time and space’.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has said that the matter remains ‘delicate’; the government is pursuing ‘diligently…all avenues…to the best of its abilities’ to ensure their return to India safely. But he refused to disclose what these avenues are, or confirm or deny whether there has been direct high level political communication between the leadership of both countries on the issue; or respond to Swamy’s tweet.

To highlight the delicacy of the situation, Akbaruddin said he would ‘hate’ to say anything that would ‘adversely impinge’ on the situation, and they had not reached a state where they could say the situation has reached a ‘happy conclusion’.

First Published: Nov 10, 2014 22:09 IST