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India, Lanka Discuss Fishermen Issue: Sign Two Memorandum Of Understanding

India, Lanka Discuss Fishermen Issue: Sign Two Memorandum Of Understanding
Highlights

India and Sri Lanka on Friday reviewed the progress made in their bilateral ties discussing various issues including that of fishermen, a major irritant in the relations, as the two countries signed MoUs in education and health sectors.

India and Sri Lanka on Friday reviewed the progress made in their bilateral ties discussing various issues including that of fishermen, a major irritant in the relations, as the two countries signed MoUs in education and health sectors.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera discussed the entire gamut of relationship during the 9th Indo-Lanka Joint Commission meeting in Colombo co-chaired by them.

"The fishermen issues was discussed by the two ministers.

They talked about the intricacies involved," officials said.

India invited Sri Lankan fisheries minister to visit the country and Colombo has accepted the invitation, the officials said.

The Joint Commission meeting which lasted for more than two hours discussed the issues such as economic cooperation, trade, power and energy, technical and maritime cooperation, social, cultural and educational matters, science and technology, defence cooperation, health, civil aviation, tourism and people-to-people contact.

Two MoUs were signed after the meeting - one on renovating 27 schools in the Tamil-dominated Northern province and the other on building a surgical ward and supplying medical equipment to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital in the East.

Sri Lanka also proposed partnership in setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Trincomalee and increase cooperation in aviation sector.

Mr Swaraj, who arrived in Colombo on friday on her second visit to the country within a year, earlier held talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Prime Minister's Office 'Temple Trees', and the two leaders had a "fruitful exchange of views".

During their 50-minute long meeting, the Prime Minister sought Indian investment in Sri Lanka and proposed partnership in setting up a SEZ in Trincomalee.

Wickremesinghe also proposed to make the Joint Commission meeting an annual affair. The two leaders also talked about state university linkages.

The Joint Commission was set up in 1992 as a mechanism to address issues of bilateral cooperation. The last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in January 2013.

The fishermen issue continues to be a major irritant in the Indo-Lanka ties.

Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters, while the latter maintain they are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Colombo in 1974.

Though the fishermen's associations of the two sides are in regular touch with each other, they have not been able to reach a mutually-acceptable solution to end this problem.

India maintains that the fishermen issue has a socio-economic dimensions, livelihood and humanitarian dimension and wants a long term solution to the problem.

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