New Delhi: India has asked Sri Lanka to release 40 Indian fishermen and six boats apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy and till such time provide necessary facilitation and assistance including consular access to them.
This was conveyed to Sri Lanka at the fourth meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group
(JWG) on Fisheries on Wednesday through virtual mode, an official spokesman said on Thursday.
The meeting covered the entire gamut of issues related to fishermen and fishing boats which have been on the agenda of discussions between the two countries for many years.
The Indian delegation reaffirmed commitment to working constructively with their Sri Lankan counterparts to address all issues related to fishermen and their livelihoods in a humanitarian manner and in line with past understandings.
During the virtual bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on September 26 both sides had agreed to ‘continue engagement to address the issues related to fishermen through regular consultation and bilateral channels.’
The Indian side also reiterated the need for releasing all fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody in line with the commitment given by the Sri Lankan President during his State visit to Indian in November 2019.
The two sides exchanged views on the status of cooperation between their respective Navies and Coast Guards in patrolling, existing hotline, cooperation in preservation of marine environment as
well as schedule for the fifth meeting of the JWG.
The first meeting of the JWG was held on December 31, 2016, in New Delhi, the second in Colombo on April 7, 2017, and the third in New Delhi on October 13, 2017.