Need to abjure violence on fishermen: India-Sri Lanka
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said India and Sri Lanka have agreed on the need to stop violence on fishermen of both countries.
Speaking to media at the 8th Session of India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) here, Khurshid said: "The JCM agreed on the need to extend humane treatment and abjure violence against fishermen of our two countries."
"We welcomed the decisions of two meetings of Joint Working Group on Fishing held in 2011 and 2012, and also the outcomes of meetings between representatives of Fishermen's Associations, and the work towards concluding a MoU on Development and Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries."
India-Sri Lanka relations were strained lately over frequent attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly straying into the waters of the neighbouring nation.
However, Khurshid's remarks come on a day when two Indian fishermen in Tamil Nadu were allegedly injured after being attacked by Sri Lankan Navy personnel for fishing in Lankan waters.
According to Tamil Nadu coast guard officials, 12 fishermen in 10 vessels had gone to fish near Iranatheevu, once a camp of banned outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), when they were attacked by the Lankan Navy personnel.
Full text of Khurshid's remarks to media:
Hon'ble Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka,
Friends from the Media,
I have just concluded very useful and productive discussions with Minister Prof. Peiris on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.Prof. Peiris and I have also co-Chaired the 8th session of the Joint Commission Meeting.
We have noted that bilateral cooperation during the past three years has seen significant expansion covering all areas of mutual interest. The signing today of two Agreements relating to Combating International Terrorism and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
During the Joint Commission, we comprehensively reviewed bilateral relations, including trade, investment and services, development cooperation, science and technology, power, agriculture, health, people-to-people contacts, connectivity, tourism, culture and education.
We noted with satisfaction that India is Sri Lanka's largest trade partner and Sri Lanka is India's largest trade partner in South Asia. India is the largest foreign direct investor in Sri Lanka, and also contributes to the largest number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans also make up a significant proportion of tourists and pilgrims visiting India.
Given the vast untapped potential, we have stressed the need for intensive consultations towards a more comprehensive framework for economic cooperation and building of a special economic partnership. We are working on setting up of a Special Economic Zone in Trincomalee and a pharmaceutical and a textiles cluster elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
I have conveyed India's readiness to support Sri Lanka's endeavor in capacity building in Science and Technology, Agriculture, ICT, education and health sector. We agreed to enhance cooperation in the energy sector. We are already discussing finalization of major mutually beneficial projects in power and oil and gas Sectors. We look forward to enhanced cooperation in new and renewable energy, civil nuclear energy and space technology in future.
India and Sri Lanka enjoy a growing defence relationship built on extensive training and Service-to-Service linkages. We have today reviewed our mutual strategic interests, in view of the commonality of concerns, including with respect to the safety and security of sea lanes of communication.We agreed to promote dialogue on security and defence issues of relevance in bilateral as well as in regional context.
We noted that the successful exposition of the sacred Kapilavastu relics and the celebrations of 150 years of Guru Rabindranath Tagore's anniversary in Sri Lanka have significantly enriched our bilateral cultural relations.
The JCM agreed on the need to extend humane treatment and abjure violence against fishermen of our two countries. We welcomed the decisions of two meetings of Joint Working Group on Fishing held in 2011 and 2012, and also the outcomes of meetings between representatives of Fishermen's Associations, and the work towards concluding a MoU on Development and Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries.
The need for both sides to adhere to the Practical Arrangements on Fishing of 2008, which had helped to decrease incidents on the International Maritime Boundary Line, has been duly noted. Both sides have placed great emphasis on the safety of our fishermen and the need to continue to ensure that violence is not resorted to under any circumstances.
I have conveyed India's commitment to the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka. We have made good progress in implementing comprehensive bilateral agenda set out by our Prime Minister and the President of Sri Lanka in June 2010. Projects of bilateral development assistance have progressed well, including construction of 50,000 houses for IDPs, with the fullest cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka. Our livelihood generation and reconstruction efforts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka have had a positive impact on the ground.
In my separate discussions with Foreign Minister Peiris, I have referred to the need for continued dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and the representatives of the Sri Lankan Tamil community, with a view towards ensuring a future for the Tamil community that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect all of which are respected by Sri Lanka.We hope that there will be early progress on meaningful devolution building upon the 13th Amendment and leading to national reconciliation.
I am confident that given our geographical proximity and millennial links, a much closer and more comprehensive relationship beckons us. The visit of Minister Peiris and our discussions today have opened avenues for taking full and further advantage of the opportunities open before us.