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Ranil to discuss fishermen issue with Modi

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New Delhi: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, during which both leaders are expected to explore ways to further boost bilateral ties besides discussing the fishermen issue.

In his first overseas trip after assuming the top office for the fourth term, Wickremesinghe arrived here on Monday on a three-day visit during which he will hold extensive talks with the Indian leadership including on the sensitive fishermen issue.

He was received at the airport by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The proposed comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the two countries and the Tamil ethnic issue are likely to figure in the talks.

Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as Sri Lanka's prime minister for the fourth time last month following his party's victory in the parliamentary polls, will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, Coal and Power
Minister Piyush Goyal, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will also
meet the Sri Lankan Prime Minister.

The visit assumes significance as President Maithripala Sirisena also chose India to be his first overseas destination after being elected to office in January.

66-year-old Wickremesinghe was picked by President Sirisena, who handed a shock defeat to Mahinda Rajapaksa in the polls, to lead a minority government in January till the parliamentary elections last month.

Wikremesinghe has vowed to strengthen ties with India but has taken a tough stand on the fishermen issue as in March he stoked a controversy suggesting that Indian fishermen may be shot if they intruded into Lankan waters.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is expected to be part of the talks agenda. Prime Minister Modi, during his visit to Sri Lanka in March, had said both countries should move boldly to conclude the pact and attract investments. (PTI)
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