Rao in Sri Lanka to discuss row over fishermen killing

Colombo, Jan 30 (PTI) Foreign Secretary Nirupama Raotoday arrived here on a key visit to boost bilateral ties anddiscuss the row over the alleged killing of two Indianfishermen in sea waters between the two countries.

The top Indian diplomat was received by officials ofSri Lanka''s external affairs ministry and Indian HighCommission at the Colombo air port, officials said.

The Foreign Secretary was expected to discuss thekillings of two Indian fishermen mid sea earlier this monththat has sparked a row between the two neighbours.

She is expected to meet President Mahinda Rajapkshatomorrow to convey New Delhi''s concern over the killing offishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy.

The government and the Lankan navy have already deniedinvolvement in the death of the fishermen.

Rao also expected to have talks with External Affairsminister Prof G L Peiris.

Reflecting the political sensitivities in Tamil Nadu,India has already reacted very strongly to the incidents inwhich two Indian fishermen were killed in the span of onemonth, notwithstanding Lankan government''s claim that itsnavy was not involved.

Rao''s visit will help to iron out the issues withregard to the row over Indian fishermen issue and discussmeasures to protect the Mahabodhi Centre in Chennai and SriLankan pilgrims to Budh Gaya, Romesh Jayasinghe, Secretary inthe External Affairs Ministry here was quoted as saying in thestate-run Sunday Observer today.

Three Buddhist monks, including a Nepalese, wereinjured in an attack on Sri Lankan Mahabodhi centre in Chennailast week.

"The two countries enjoy close bi-lateral ties andsenior officials of Sri Lanka and India can meet at shortnotice whenever there are urgent matters to be discussed,"Jayasinghe said.

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