New Delhi, Oct 6: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid visits Sri Lanka Monday and Tuesday when he is to take up the issue of Indian fishermen arrested by their navy.
This will be Khurshid’s first visit to Sri Lanka since taking office last year. His predecessor S.M. Krishna had visited Sri Lanka in January 2012.
Khurshi will hold talks with his counterpart G.L Peiris.
“Issues relating to fishermen are likely to be a major focus of discussions as the number of Indian fishermen arrested so far in 2013 exceeds the annual numbers during the last year (2012),” said an official source.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa has been repeatedly urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put pressure on Sri Lanka to release fishermen from her state in Sri Lankan custody.
“India has been attaching high priority to the welfare, safety and security of fishermen and has been emphasizing on the need to address the issue in a humanitarian manner,” the source added.
Talks between the two sides are also likely to encompass trade, investment and development cooperation as well as “address issues relating to the Sampur Thermal Power Project and aspects of Indian technical assistance to Sri Lanka”.
The 500 MW Sampur power project, located in Trincomalee, is being jointly developed by state-owned NTPC with Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
The two countries had signed an agreement in 2011 to set up a coal-based power project, but it got delayed due to various reasons. Electricity generated from the plant, which would have two units of 250 MW, would be supplied to CEB.
Khurshid is expected to call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and also meet leaders from across the spectrum of the Sri Lankan polity and pay his respects at the IPKF Memorial.
He would also visit Jaffna, and review the ongoing development projects being undertaken there with Indian assistance, including the flagship project to provide 50,000 housing units.
During his visit to the Northern Province, Khurshid is to meet Governor Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri and the newly-elected Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran.
After the Northern Provincial Council polls held last month India had “noted the positive statements” made by the victorious Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the government of Sri Lanka and “expressed satisfaction that they had expressed willingness to work with each other for the progress of the people of the Northern Province”.
“It had also urged both sides to engage constructively, in a spirit of partnership and mutual accommodation, so that the urgent needs of the people of the Northern Province, which has recently emerged from the throes of a thirty-year-long armed conflict, are addressed with a sense of urgency and purpose, the source said.
“This message of the need to engage in meaningful reconciliation will be emphasized by Khurshid in his various interactions,” the source added.
–Indo-Asian News service