There are five Indian fishermen and 34 fishing vessels in Sri Lankan custody, the minister said. (Representative Image).
New Delhi: Five Indian fishermen and 34 fishing vessels are in Sri Lanka's custody, the External Affairs Ministry said Thursday, asserting that the government regularly takes up the matter of their early release and repatriation.
Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the issue has been discussed at high-level meetings between the two nations.
"It was discussed during bilateral meetings held during the visit of President of Sri Lanka to India from May 30-31, 2019, and the visit of Prime Minister of India to Sri Lanka on June 9, 2019," he said.
Currently, there are five Indian fishermen and 34 fishing vessels in Sri Lankan custody, the minister said.
Muraleedharan said a joint working group has been set up with Sri Lanka, as a bilateral institutional mechanism to help find a long-standing solution to issues related to fishermen.
"It has also been agreed that the ministers for fisheries of the two countries meet every six months to review the progress. Ministers of fisheries of both the countries have met two times-- in January 2017 in Colombo and in October 2017 in New Delhi," he said.
"Three rounds of (meetings of the) JWG have been held. The first meeting of the JWG on fisheries was held in New Delhi in December 2016 where both sides agreed to a set of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs)," the minister said.
The second and third meetings of the JWG were held in April 2017 in Colombo and in October 2017 in New Delhi to take stock of the implementation of the CBMs, Muraleedharan said.