Indo-Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries meet

Colombo: The long-awaited meeting of Joint Working Group on Fisheries between India and Sri Lanka took place here today to work out an arrangement to avert incidents of harassment allegedly by the island`s navy against fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

The meeting comes two months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed that the group should accelerate its work and discuss difficulties faced by Indian fishermen. In today`s meeting, the Indian delegation consisted of Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary (Sri Lanka) in the Ministry of External Affairs, officials from various departments and a representative from the Tamil Nadu Government.

Sources said the discussions focused primarily on bringing out an interim arrangement to avert incidents of Indian fishermen facing harassment allegedly at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy till a long-term agreement is achieved. The Joint Working Group meeting assumes significance as it comes two days ahead of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna`s four-day visit here during which the two sides will review the outcome of the meeting.

The officials also deliberated on the ways to find a amicable solution to the problem as Indian fishermen allege that they are being harassed and attacked sometimes by the Sri Lankan Navy. Officials said the meeting of the Joint Working Group is being held for the first time in five years.