India, Sri Lanka fishermen's association meeting proposed for long term goals: MEA

New Delhi, Jan. 18 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday stated that a meeting of the fisherman associations of India and Sri Lanka has been proposed in order to work out a long term solution with regards to this issue, adding that the matter needs to be dealt with in a humane manner.

"It is proposed to have a meeting of the fishermen's associations of the two countries at an early date to discuss how to address longer term goal in this regard. Both India and Sri Lanka feel that a longer term solution needs to be worked out taking into consideration all aspects of the matter," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media.

"In the interim, there is an understanding that this matter needs to be dealt with in a humane manner taking into consideration the humanitarian aspects of the livelihoods of those involved. On this issue of fishermen, the Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs (EAM) Mangala Samaraweera has indicated that efforts are underway on matters relating to the release of boats," he added.

Akbaruddin also stated that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was invited to visit Sri Lanka by her counterpart.

"The Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs has invited EAM to visit Sri Lanka. She has agreed to this and dates will be worked out soon," he said.

"The next visit will also see the holding of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission. This Joint Commission was last held in January 2012 in New Delhi," he added.

Stating that Sri Lanka has assured India of its constitutional reform initiatives, Akbaruddin said that the meeting between Swaraj and Samaraweera has paved the way for newly elected President Maithiripala Sirisena's visit to New Delhi.

"The Sri Lanka Minister of External Affairs also briefed the EAM on the constitutional reform efforts initiative by the new Sri Lankan Government. On our part, EAM has conveyed India's interests in working closely and extensively with the new Sri Lankan Government," he said.

"India and Sri Lanka have agreed to re-engage on the issue of repatriation of refugees currently in India back to Sri Lanka. A meeting on this between the concerned officials is targeted to be held before the end of this month. The meeting has paved the way for the further visit of Sri Lankan President to India at an early day," he added.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka went to polls, with 19 candidates contesting the elections. Maithiripala Sirisena was voted the new President, beating the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa after securing 51.28 percent of the votes cast.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had both extended their congratulations to President Sirisena on his poll victory. (ANI)