TN wants bilateral fishermen talks with SL after mid-March

TN wants bilateral fishermen talks with SL after mid-March

March 6, 2015   10:40 am

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs 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 the island nation.

The Tamil Nadu government received a communication from the Ministry conveying Sri Lanka’s proposal to hold the talks in Chennai on March 11. Replying to that, 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 has proposed the talks on March 5. However, Lanka had sought more time as the new government was pre-occupied with its 100-day programme. Since the Centre was reportedly keen on scheduling the talks ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Colombo, Lanka had proposed March 11 as fresh date for talks.

When asked about the finalisation of dates for the talks, a top official in the External Affairs Ministry told Express: “We are working on fresh dates.”  However, the official declined to elaborate.  It is learnt that the Tamil Nadu government’s suggestion to hold talks after March 15 has been conveyed to the Sri Lankan government.

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. – Express News Service


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