NEW DELHI: India is hoping that fishermen detained in Sri Lanka are released on humanitarian grounds. This request was made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at a virtual meeting with Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksha on Saturday. They also greeted each other for Pongal which is celebrated in both countries.
Of the 68 Indian fishermen detained in Sri Lanka, 13 were released in the first week of January. The families of those who are yet to return are awaiting an announcement on their release. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is hoping to see increased Indian investment in ports, infrastructure and power, among other sectors.
It is for the same reason that Sri Lanka is trying to create a conducive environment for Indian investors. India and Sri Lanka are jointly working on the modernisation of Trincomalee oil tank farm and this is likely to boost the confidence of investors, said Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka had signed a deal with a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation Limited called Lanka IOC for the project to refurbish the Trincomalee farm, an 850-acre storage facility with a capacity of almost one million tonnes.
Lanka IOC would be given 49% of the stake in the joint development, with the majority stakeholder Ceylon Petroleum Corporation keeping 51%. Both countries reviewed the progress in extending loans worth $1.5 billion to Sri Lanka for emergency purchase of food, medicines and fuel to tide over the economic crisis. Sri Lanka has been grappling with an acute economic crisis since the pandemic. This will be overcome only after the revival of tourism. Jaishankar conveyed that India has always stood by Sri Lanka and would continue to support it.