Sri Lanka is likely to release the 23 Tamil Nadu fishermen, who were apprehended for fishing in Sri Lankan waters, on Tuesday, a senior official here said.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and Indian High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha discussed the issue and officials on both sides were hopeful that a solution to the problem would be found by Tuesday. Asked if Sri Lanka linking the release of its fishermen held in India to Tamil Nadu fishermen being held here would lead to delays in the release of the 23 fishermen, a senior Sri Lankan official said that this was not the case. “We can have a release tomorrow [Tuesday],” he added.

“There are many Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian jails too. We have to work out a method to release them too,” said the official, when asked about the incarceration of the Tamil Nadu fishermen in a jail here.

More than 70 Sri Lankan fishermen are in Indian jails. While those who get caught by the Tamil Nadu police are let off relatively early, many who get caught in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, get incarcerated for long periods. The legal procedures in India, in these States, take longer to be completed.

Sri Lankan Navy had apprehended the fishermen on charges of encroaching and poaching in Sri Lankan waters on the night of June 20.

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