Siddharth Varadarajan

New Delhi: India and Sri Lanka have reached an agreement that is expected to go some distance towards addressing Indian concerns about fishermen from Tamil Nadu being fired upon or detained by the Sri Lankan authorities for inadvertently crossing the maritime boundary separating the territorial waters of the two countries.

In a joint statement on fishing arrangements released at the end of the day-long visit to Delhi by Basil Rajapaksa, senior advisor to the President of Sri Lanka, the two sides said they had agreed to put in place “practical arrangements to deal with bona fide Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).”

These practical arrangements would involve the designation by the government of Sri Lanka of sensitive areas along the Sri Lankan coastline and their intimation to the government of India. The joint statement says Indian fishing vessels will not venture into these identified sensitive areas. “Further, there will be no firing on Indian vessels. Indian fishing vessels will carry a valid registration or permit and the fishermen will have on person valid identity cards issued by the government of Tamil Nadu.”

On Sunday, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa had extensive discussions with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

Later, Mr. Mukherjee flew to Chennai for talks with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. “The External Affairs Minister requested me not to complicate things and cause any pain for the Centre,” Mr. Karunanidhi told reporters. “I’ve assured him that I will not.”

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