Observe restraint while dealing with fishermen: India to Lanka

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna asked Sri Lanka to observe "restraint" while dealing with Indian fishermen.

Last Updated: May 16, 2011, 19:31 PM IST

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Monday asked Sri Lanka to observe "restraint" while dealing with Indian fishermen who stray into its waters during talks with his counterpart GL Peiris, who is here to explain his country`s position on a UN report accusing it of "war crimes".

During a meeting, Krishna and Peiris, here on a three-day visit, discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Official sources said Krishna conveyed to Peiris that safety of Indian fishermen was of utmost importance and Sri Lanka should restrain from using force on them if they stray into the country`s waters.

Ahead of Peiris` visit, reports from Colombo had indicated that he would be here to discuss the report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon`s expert panel and lobby for India`s support. However, there was no official word on what transpired at the meeting.

The panel was constituted to study the happenings during the last phase of the war against the LTTE, probe allegations of war crimes and advise the UN chief on the issue.

The report has accused the Lankan government and the now vanquished Tamil Tiger rebels of targeting and killing thousands of civilians during the last phase of the civil war that ended on May 19, 2009 with the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The report also advocated setting up of an independent investigation.

The UN secretary general has made it clear that any independent international investigation will be instituted only after the member states call for it.

Measured in its response, India had said it was willing to engage with Sri Lanka on the report.

Significantly, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has been pressing the Centre to move the UN against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for "war crimes and genocide" after the world body`s report on civilian casualties during the ethnic strife.

"India can no longer remain a silent spectator," said the AIADMK leader and added, "If necessary, an economic blockade will have to be resorted to bring a recalcitrant Sri Lanka to heel."

Peiris is also understood to have briefed Krishna on measures taken by his government in relation to its reconciliation process and its progress.

Peiris is likely to meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

PTI