No Indo-Lanka Fishermen Talks Before Modi Visit

The Ministry of External Affairs of India is working on fixing a fresh date for holding third round of talks between fishermen of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu after the State government informed that it would be difficult to host it on March 11 as proposed by Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Nadu government received a communication from the Ministry conveying Sri Lanka’s proposal to hold the talks in Chennai on March 11. However, State Fisheries Secretary S Vijayakumar conveyed to Suchitra Durai, Joint Secretary (SM and IOR), Ministry of External Affairs that any date after March 15 would be convenient.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu government proposed the talks to be held on March 5. However, Sri Lanka sought more time as the new government was pre-occupied with its 100 Days Programme. Since the Centre was reportedly keen on scheduling the talks ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Colombo, Sri Lanka had proposed March 11 as fresh date for talks.

The first and second rounds of the talks were held in Chennai and Colombo on January 27 and May 12, 2014 respectively following the initiative taken by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

The Tamil Nadu government had already made it clear that the talks should be held without prejudice, and must not in any way, compromise the stand already taken by Tamil Nadu government in the writ petition filed before the SC regarding India’s territorial sovereignty over Katchatheevu. The agenda of the talks include reiterating the traditional rights of Tamil Nadu’s fishermen to fish in the Palk Bay.

Last week, Lankan Navy had arrested 86 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and seized their boats. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had written to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention to release the fishermen and their boats at the earliest.

Whether the fishermen would be released ahead of the three-day Lanka visit of the Prime Minister, starting March 13 is yet to be known.
(with inputs from The New Indian Express)

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