External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with his Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris on Monday for "constructive" talks, concentrating on ways to improve Colombo's energy security, expand bilateral trade and investment, and the controversial fishermen problem. The talks took place just days after India offered a USD 500 million credit line to Sri Lanka to aid in the purchase of petroleum goods as the island nation grappled with a serious currency and energy crisis.
"Excellent discussions with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris. Economic and investment initiatives that will help Sri Lanka at this time were discussed. "It's also about taking additional actions to strengthen Sri Lanka's energy security," Jaishankar said on Twitter. Peiris arrived in Delhi on a three-day official visit on Sunday. Regarding the fishermen's issue, Jaishankar stated that it was agreed that bilateral mechanisms for it should meet as soon as possible and that the necessity of strengthening people-to-people ties through increased connectivity was recognized.
"We discussed the fishermen's issue and decided that bilateral mechanisms should meet as soon as possible." Recognized the importance of increased tourism in the rehabilitation of the economy. "The relevance of P2P linkages through increased connectivity is also recognized," he said. In the ties between the two sides, the fishermen's issue is a controversial one.
Several alleged incidences of Sri Lankan Navy troops employing force against Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait have occurred in the past. For fishermen from both countries, the Palk Strait, a thin stretch of water separating Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, is a fertile fishing field. V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, said in the Rajya Sabha last week that both parties are in talks to have the fifth round of the Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on fisheries as soon as possible. The JWG is an important forum for debate on the topic of fishing. In another tweet, Jaishankar stated, "We shall honor 75 years of our independence and diplomatic relations in a proper manner."
Jaishankar said he was "extremely glad to welcome" Peiris to India ahead of the talks. Sri Lanka received a USD 500 million credit line from India on February 2 to enable them to purchase petroleum supplies. On January 15, Jaishankar and Sri Lanka's Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa held a virtual meeting, which resulted in Indian assistance. Last month, the island nation reached an agreement with the Sri Lankan chapter of Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), and the Joint Venture between LIOC and CPC to redevelop 75 oil tanks in Trincomalee.
The agreement is projected to help Sri Lanka establish Trincomalee as an energy and transportation center, enhancing the country's energy security.
Last but not least, when asked about the harm to Indian interests, the minister responded, "Indian interests will never be jeopardized. When it comes to the Chinese footprint in Sri Lanka, the Indian presence is all over the place. It is not frightening. It does not terrify us. It is in both countries best interests."