Sri Lankan PM meets Indian foreign secretary, discusses fishermen issue

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met visiting Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale today and discussed issues concerning fishermen and India-funded projects in the island nation.

“Strong regional relationships are integral to our plans to grow our economy and strengthen our position as an Indian Ocean economic hub. Today I met with the Indian foreign secretary Mr Vijay Keshav Gokhale as we continue to build our relationship with India,” Wickremesinghe tweeted.

According to the Prime Minister’s office, both sides had talks on the Indian-funded housing project in the North for war-displaced families.

Wickremesinghe assured that several India-funded projects in his country will get off the ground this year, according to his office.

They also touched on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between the two nations.

The thorny issue of Indian fishermen allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters was also discussed.

Colombo Gazette reported that the Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody will be released.

An Indian parliamentary panel had in April this year expressed concerns over the repeated arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities.

A panel member, belonging to the AIADMK party in Tamil Nadu, had even demanded the review of the marine boundary agreements between the two countries.

The Sri Lankan government had in February recommended release of 113 Indian fishermen arrested around the time by its Navy on charges of fishing in its territorial waters.

Prior to that, the Sri Lankan government had released 89 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the last week of December after they were held on similar charges.

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