Mathai in Sri Lanka on 3-day visit

Colombo: India is likely to take up the issue of attacks on its fishermen from Tamil Nadu allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy during visiting Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai`s crucial talks with the top leadership here.

Apart from calling on President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mathai, who arrived here last night on a three day visit, will review developmental projects being undertaken in various parts of this country with Indian government`s assistance.

Mathai will also meet Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and leaders of the main Tamil party TNA during his stay here.

He will visit Sri Lanka`s north to inspect developmental projects funded by the Indian government.

Officials here believe that Mathai, who called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa prior to his Colombo visit, would take up the issue of attacks on Indian fishermen.

Jayalalithaa yesterday conveyed to Mathai her serious concern over increasing attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy.

"Incidents of apprehension and assault of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy should be viewed not as an assault on Tamil fishermen, but as an assault on Indian citizens and should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to firing across the borders of India by neighbours such as Pakistan and China," she had told Mathai.

Noting that 16 such incidents had taken place since this May, she had said the attacks should be viewed as a national issue and not an isolated problem of Tamil Nadu, according to a state government release.