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Fishermen killing: Krishna talks tough with Lanka

February 01, 2011 16:10 IST

Taking a serious note of the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, India on Tuesday told Colombo that the use of force against them should not be repeated and asked it to take a decision that will not upset bilateral ties.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna also directed Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to convene a meeting of the Indo-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on the issue around February 15 to discuss the killing of the Indian fishermen threadbare.

"I hope that one thing is certain and one thing is common that regardless of whatever the circumstances are, use of force and killing fishermen has to be something that is part of the history. It cannot be the present and the future," Krishna told reporters after briefing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi about the talks Rao had with Sri Lankan authorities on Monday.

He said Indian officials have pointed out to Sri Lankan authorities that use of force against fishermen who cross over into the other country's maritime border does not happen even with countries like Pakistan.

"It has been pointed out to Sri Lankan authorities that it does not happen with Pakistan or any other country; why should it happen with Sri Lanka alone," he said.

Noting that India has very cordial and friendly relations with Sri Lanka, Krishna said, "So it is in this context that the Sri Lankan government will have to revisit the question and take some decision which will not upset the bilateral relations between our two countries."

Krishna said Rao met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday and conveyed India's concerns over the issue of fishermen being killed allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy.

"The President of Sri Lanka fully appreciates India's position and he also shared our concerns. He has ordered a serious investigation into the circumstances that led to the killing and he is awaiting the report of the investigation," he said.

Rao was also present during the meeting with Karunanidhi.

Krishna said the Joint Statement issued between the two countries on Monday fully assures the protection of the fishermen of India.

"If there is anything, the government of India will certainly intervene and they will take the necessary appropriate steps to assure the fishermen that they could continue (with their) work unhindered," he said.

The meeting comes a day after Karunanidhi asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to advise Colombo in 'strong terms' to refrain from such 'uncalled for attacks'.

"He also told the prime minister that the presence of Navy and Coast Guard on the International Maritime Border between India and Sri Lanka should be strengthened to avoid the recurrence of such incidents.

Dr Singh also assured Karunanidhi that he would speak to Defence Minister A K Antony on the issue of strengthening the Navy and Coast Guard on the Indo-Sri Lanka maritime border.

The meeting between Dr Singh and Karunanidhi comes against the backdrop of two fishermen from Tamil Nadu being killed allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy after they inadvertently crossed into the Sri Lankan waters.

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