Sri Lanka President seeks humanitarian solution to fishing row

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Colombo, Jan 14 (PTI) Sri Lankan President MahindaRajapaksa today advocated a "humanitarian approach" to avoidclashes between fishermen from India and his country near theinternational maritime border (IMB).

"The fishermen will go where the fish is and they arenot likely to respect international borders," Rajapaksa saidwhen asked for his comment on the killing of an Indianfisherman.

"We have to take a humanitarian approach," he said,adding that investigations by Sri Lankan Navy showed thatthere had been no shooting by his forces on Indian fishermen.

Earlier, Indian media reported that at least onefisherman from Tamil Nadu was killed on Wednesday night in anincident near Tamil Nadu waters.

The media reports said the Sri Lankan Navy allegedlyopened fire at the fishermen killing one and injuring another.

Rajapaksa said that the two countries had establisheda system to avoid clashes before Sri Lankan forces crushedLTTE rebels and brought an end to gun running along the IMB.

However, with the return of peace and Sri Lankanfishermen allowed to go out in the area, there had been manyincidents of clashes between fishermen from the two nations.

Director of Naval Operations in Sri Lanka, CommodoreNeil Rosayro told reporters at the President''s officialresidence today that their investigations showed that the SriLankan navy had not fired at the Indians as alleged.

"There are several systems that the Indian navy andthe coastguard has put in place, they will know instantly ifwe cross the International Maritime Border," Rosairo toldreporters.

"They can confirm that we did not cross the IMB andthere was no shooting by our boats," he said.

India yesterday summoned Sri Lankan High CommissionerPrasad Kariyawasam to lodge a strong protest over the killingof a fisherman by Lankan Navy, asserting that such incidentshave no "justification" and calling on authorities there to"desist" from use of force.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has sought adetailed report from the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo,who has taken up this matter with the Lankan government andexpressed "deep concern and regret" over it.

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