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(AFP)

The resumption of the ferry service between Sri Lanka and India has been temporarily put on hold after the return of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the government revealed today.

Speaking at a media briefing, Minister of Ports and Shipping Arjuna Ranatunga said work on resuming the ferry service between Talaimannar in Sri Lanka and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, India had been progressing well. However, after Jayalalithaa was sworn in as Chief Minister once again on May 23, the government had received word to ‘go slow’ on the matter. As such, work on the resumption of ferry services was currently on hold, he said.

Ranatunga noted the resumption of ferry services between the two countries had been given special attention during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s March visit to Sri Lanka. He said both the Sri Lankan government and India’s Central Government were very keen on resuming the ferry service.

When queried whether Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was sabotaging the resumption of ferry services, Minister Ranatunga said that was unclear and he could not say anything for certain. “However, we hope to resume the service after further discussions between the Indian Prime Minister and Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister,” he told the media.

Indian and Sri Lankan officials had discussed the resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameshwaram as well as Colombo and Tuticorin in March ahead of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the island.