Colombo: Indian and Sri Lankan delegations will go ahead with their talks on the fishermen issue planned for May 12, a top Lankan official said here today. Fisheries Ministry spokesman Narendra Rajapaksa said the arrest of some 24 Sri Lankan fishermen and their five boats in Andhra Pradesh would not hinder the talks. “The talks would happen on May 12 as planned and we await the arrival of delegates,” he said.
Rajapaksa said the Lankan fisheries ministry had already opened diplomatic channels through the Sri Lankan mission in Chennai to seek the release of those held. “The procedure in Andhra (Pradesh) is more rigid,” he said.
The talks which were to take place in mid-March did not take place as the Tamil Nadu government protested the detention of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka. The Tamil Nadu government had demanded the release of all Indian fishermen before the talks could resume. Sri Lanka was resorting to legal procedures for the release.
Sri Lanka had seized over 160 fishermen despite the agreements reached at talks held in Chennai in January. The bilateral talks began in mid January to find a solution to the fishermen issue that often boils into a major political controversy in India.
The latest breakthrough came in the form of an order by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after India abstained from voting on a US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council at the end of March.
India was among the 12 countries that abstained while the resolution moved by the US government was carried with 24 votes in favour.
Rajapaksa ordered the release of all Indian fishermen in order to say “thank you” for abstaining. India had voted in favour of two previous US-backed resolutions in 2012 and 2013.