Sushma meets leaders of minority Tamil and Muslim parties

Sushma SwarajThe Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main party representing Sri Lanka’s northern Tamils, has urged India to amicably address the Palk Bay conflict facing fishermen of both countries.

Following a meeting with visiting Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said: “We mentioned the fact that consequent to the fact Indian trawlers coming here in unlimited numbers the fishing rights of local fishermen are being greatly disturbed.” Handing over a letter from the Jaffna Fisheries Federation to the Foreign Minister, the TNA leaders requested New Delhi to take action to resolve the issue. “They are appreciating of the need to address the issue and I think it will be addressed without a delay,” Mr. Sampanthan said.

The TNA conveyed a request from the northern Sri Lankan fishermen — most affected by the Indian trawlers allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters — to meet with the Prime Minister in Jaffna on March 14. The TNA also discussed the question devolution and return of land by the army.

The fisheries issue figured in almost all meetings that Ms. Swaraj had, according Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin. Recognising the humanitarian dimension of what was a livelihood issue for fishermen of both countries, New Delhi was exploring interim solutions to the issue, while simultaneously looking at long-term alternatives such as deep sea fishing. “We are trying to schedule the fishermen’s talks, targeting a date soon after Mr. Modi’s visit,” Mr. Akbaruddin told reporters.

Better environment

Ms. Swaraj met top leaders of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and sought their perspective of changes in the country, post Sri Lanka’s January 8 Presidential election. “We told her that the environment had improved after the regime change, and that communal hatred had come down,” the party’s general secretary Hassan Ali said. (The Hindu)

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