Swaraj in Sri Lanka – bilaterals, fishermen issues top agenda

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Sushma SwarajNew Delhi : External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has begun her two-day visit to Sri Lanka, during which she is expected to co-chair the 9th Joint Commission meeting in Columbo, and rake up matters concerning fishermen issues and overall bilateral ties, and focus on strengthening of regional co-existence between India and Sri Lanka. The talks which would commence between both nation’s representatives, is expected to will cover the entire gamut of bilateral relationship between the two countries, namely — economic cooperation, trade, power and energy, technical and maritime cooperation, social, cultural and educational matters, science and technology, defence cooperation, health, civil aviation, tourism and people-to-people contact.

Top on the agenda would be discussions on fishermen’s issues and rights of minority Tamils to be discussed with the top Sri Lankan representatives. The southern region of India is pinning hopes on resolving of water related disputes and expects the External Affairs Minister to bring home some relief solutions, in the lines of her successful dialogues and release of fishermen in her earlier interactions with Sri Lankan leaders. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said yesterday that the fishermen issue is expected to figure during Swaraj’s meeting with the Lankan leaders as it continues to be a major irritant in the Indo-Lanka ties. Although the fishermen’s associations of both sides are in regular touch with each other, they have not been able to reach a mutually-acceptable solution to end this problem, Swarup had said, adding that India is looking for a long-term solution of resolution.

Swaraj and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera will co-chair the 9th Joint Commission meeting to discuss key bilateral and regional issues in Colombo later today. The Joint Commission was set up in 1992 as a mechanism to address issues of bilateral cooperation, and its last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in January 2013.

The Minister would also inaugurate a ‘Rise of Digital India’ exhibition tomorrow as part of ‘Sangam’ festival of India in Sri Lanka 2015-2016. The exhibition will reflect on the impact of digitization in India and would speak about the Digital India movement which has spread its wings in Indian soil, far and wide. It will showcase the phenomenal rise of the computing sector and digital technologies in India which is positively impacting the everyday lives of people.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had last month said his government was ready to devolve power to minority Tamils under a new Constitution, aimed at resolving the ethnic conflict and achieving reconciliation with Tamils. The issue of rights of minority Tamil community is also expected to come up for discussions during Swaraj’s meetings. Swaraj’s schedule includes — meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and former president Chandrika Kumaratunga besides other top leaders.