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India reacts sharply to Sri Lankan fisheries minister's remark
Thursday May 28, 2015 9:00 AM, IANS

New Delhi: India on Wednesday voiced its displeasure after a Sri Lankan minister rebuffed New Delhi's proposal to allow Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, saying it was committed to working with Colombo to find a mutually acceptable solution to the vexing fishermen issue and that the minister's remarks were "not helpful".

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup in a statement said India was aware of the remarks made by Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

"We also have concerns about Sri Lankan fishermen fishing in Indian waters. Frequently Sri Lankan fishermen are apprehended in our waters. However, we recognise that this is a complex livelihood issue which has a humanitarian dimension," he said.

He said the government "attaches utmost importance to the safety and welfare of Indian fishermen. We are committed to working together with the government of Sri Lanka to find a mutually acceptable solution. In this context, such remarks are not helpful".

On Tuesday, Amaraweera said Sri Lanka had refused India's proposal to allow Indian fishermen to catch fish in Sri Lankan waters for 65 days a year.

"Not 65 days, we will not agree for even 65 hours," Amaraweera said in Galle.

Sri Lankan and Indian fishing organisations have held several rounds of discussions to sort out the long-pending dispute.

The Sri Lankan side has also taken strong exception to bottom trawling by Indian counterparts.

Amaraweera said the navy has been instructed to continue arresting Indian fishermen who poach in Sri Lankan waters.

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