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Maldives releases Sri Lankan fishermen

Four boats were caught illegally fishing in Maldivian waters.



The Maldives government has agreed to release crew members of four Sri Lankan fishing boats seized from the country’s territorial waters.

The decision was revealed by former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa following a meeting with the Maldives foreign minister in Colombo.

The four fishing boats were held by the coastguard in late February and March near the the northernmost Haa Alif atoll. The 25 fishermen onboard were arrested on charges of violating the country’s maritime border.

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid gave assurances of their release during an official visit on Wednesday.

During the visit, Shahid also paid courtesy calls on Prime Minister Ranil Wikremesinghe and Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardhane, during which he conveyed condolences and expressed sympathy over the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people last month.

“Foreign Minister also exchanged views on countering terrorism in the region and reiterated the Government of Maldives’ strong commitment in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” the foreign ministry said.

“Additionally, Foreign Minister Shahid highlighted the newly introduced changes to the resident visa regime by the Sri Lankan Government, and underscored the need to resolve and ease visa procedures for the mutual benefit of the two countries.”