India, Lanka discuss fishermen, maritime security

India    External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday held extensive talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris on key bilateral issues including fishermen, India-assisted developmental project in Northern Province and prospects for enhanced economic cooperation.

There was also a discussion about the satisfactory progress of the trilateral cooperation on maritime security among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

The meeting, which comes close on the heels of a visit by Sri Lankan Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne here, assessed “positively” the recent meeting in Chennai between the fishermen associations as a first step in the right direction and agreed to consider the proposals put forward by the fishermen associations.

“It was agreed that the Governments of India and Sri Lanka will remain engaged to ensure that fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner,” official sources said.

During the meeting, Khurshid emphasised that “India attaches the highest importance to the safety, security and well being of Indian fishermen and thanked the Sri Lankan Minister for his personal efforts in ensuring the release of the Indian fishermen”, they said.

The Ministers also discussed issues related to the progress of some of the important long-term developmental projects which are being undertaken by India.

Construction of 43,000 houses under the owner driven model was underway with more than 10,000 houses already completed in 2013 in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in the second phase of the flagship housing project by India.

India and Sri Lanka along with Maldives also cooperate in the maritime security with all the three sides of the view that in the current maritime security environment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it was important to raise the level of maritime cooperation between them.

The Ministers also reviewed the ongoing trade and economic cooperation as well as the growth in tourism on both sides, the sources said, adding in this context it was mentioned that Sri Lanka would be the partner country at the Surajkund International Crafts Mela from 1-15 February, 2014.

Issues of common interest that are likely to figure in forthcoming international meetings of which India and Sri Lanka are both members were also discussed.  (PTI

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