Sri Lankan fisheries minister is to visit India in the coming weeks to hold discussions on spiraling tensions over illegal poaching with over 400 fishermen estimated to be jailed in both countries, local media reported here on Monday.
Sri Lanka's Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne is to hold discussions with India's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who is in charge of fishing but dates are yet to be finalized.
The issue of Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen crossing over into each other's territorial waters to poach illegally has existed years but tensions have escalated over the last few months with both sides increasing arrests.
Reports have indicated 213 Sri Lankan fishermen with 40 boats are in Indian custody while the Sri Lankan Navy has detained over 140 fishermen over the last few weeks.
South Indian fishermen on Saturday launched an indefinite fast demanding the release of those arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy. Indian fishermen insist 210 of their colleagues and 70 boats are being kept in Sri Lankan custody.
The standoff is threatening to spill over into political bickering with the proposed talks hoping to smooth troubled waters between the neighbors.
"I have received an invitation from him and have asked the Indian High Commission to make arrangements on suitable dates in the coming weeks," Senaratne told a weekend newspaper.
Senaratne said the objective was to discuss the issues in the poaching crisis and related matters to find a long-term solution.
"We will try to find a solution that is acceptable to India's Central and state governments and Sri Lanka," he added. More....