External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has spoken to his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris to secure the release of 142 Indian fishermen arrested by the island Navy over the past few days.

“I am hopeful that the Sri Lankan Government will take all the necessary steps to release all Indian fishermen,'' he told journalists here after a telephonic conversation with Mr. Peiris on Thursday. “Both governments must sort out the issue amicably,'' he said.

“I have also conveyed my deep regret that Sri Lankan nationals and Sri Lankan fishermen have taken [the] law into their own hands and confronted our fishermen,” he said adding there was no justification for fishermen to stray into Sri Lankan waters. Sri Lankan fishermen have also to be “very cautious'' when they are getting into Indian waters. “Nevertheless, in the light of the bilateral relationship which has always been cordial, I think it is necessary that all of us must help to defuse the situation. I have suggested that the fishermen be released.”

Thursday being a holiday in Sri Lanka, New Delhi was confident, Colombo would take the necessary steps the next day when the courts reopen to get all the fishermen released.

“I have also suggested to the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister that fishermen associations should get in touch with each other so that they can come to some understanding with reference to fishing in international waters,” Mr. Krishna said.

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