Sri Lanka and India yesterday reiterated that there would be no use of force “under any circumstances” by security forces on fishermen.
This was conveyed when External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris met his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna on the sidelines of the SAARC foreign ministers meeting in Thimphu yesterday (7).
The 38th session of the SAARC Standing Committee meeting represented by foreign ministers of the member states commenced on Sunday in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Foreign ministers and delegations of the member countries will attend the 33rd Inter-Summit session of the SAARC council of ministers on February 8 and 9.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Prof. Peiris advocated a stable mechanism for handling the issue instead of adopting an ad hoc approach each time such an incident occurred.
Prof. Peiris has said that based on the information available to the Sri Lankan government its Navy was not responsible for the attacks when Indian minister conveyed his government's deep concerns over killing of its fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy.
"There were satellite pictures which indicated that there was "no complicity" on the part of Sri Lankan Navy," Prof. Peiris said.
He said revival of the Joint Working Group on Fishing, which has not met since 2006, could be the key to a solution to the clashes involving fishermen on the high seas. This could be supplemented by dialogue between the local administrations of both countries, he added.
"For the future what is needed is stable mechanism rather than addressing these matters on ad hoc basis... After the incident has occurred, there is certainly a need for stable mechanism to address the problem and to ensure that these incidents do not recur," Indian media quoted Prof. Peiris as saying.
However, the Minister Peiris has asserted the Indian minister that Sri Lanka will however open to any evidence India may present on the incidents and conduct thorough investigations into the allegations.
Minister Peiris has said that the two countries need to work together to find a sensible and pragmatic solution that lasts and not deal with the matters on an ad hoc basis.
During the Indian Foreign Secretary Mrs. Nirupama Rao's visit to Colombo last month both sides agreed that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances.