COLOMBO, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka on Friday released 86 Indian fishermen as a goodwill measure to mark the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the island nation.
A court in the northern province of Jaffna set free 43 Indians while a court in the eastern province of Trincomalee freed 43 others.
President Maithripala Sirisena had earlier this week ordered the release of the Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody to coincide with Modi's visit.
The navy had arrested the 86 Indian fishermen for poaching in Sri Lankan waters last month. The fishermen were arrested east of Mullaitivu, in the north, and their boats were also seized.
President Sirisena had this week expressed the hope that Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian custody will also be set free as a goodwill gesture.
Modi is currently in Sri Lanka on a two-day state visit and during talks with President Sirisena on Friday he said that the long-standing fishermen issue between the two nations was a complex issue involving livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides.
"We should handle it from this perspective. At the same time, we need to find a long-term solution to this issue. It is also important that fishermen's associations of India and Sri Lanka meet at the earliest to find a mutually acceptable arrangement. It can then be taken forward by both governments," he said, addressing the media soon after the discussions.