Diplomacy wins the day, Italian marines to return


March 22, 2013

The External Affairs Minister says he would take parliament into confidence over the development.

March 22, 2013

The External Affairs Minister says he would take parliament into confidence over the development.

New Delhi: Diplomacy continues to work, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Friday after Italy agreed to send back two of its marines to face trial for killing two Indian fishermen last year. "You shouldn't write off diplomacy too soon. At least one can say diplomacy continues to work when everyone else thinks everything else has failed. Please give diplomacy a little more chance to do what needs to be done," Khurshid told reporters here.

"The diplomacy that we do under this government is obviously given a direction by the prime minister and Congress president, it is the government that is led by them. For anyone else among us to take credit for it would be unbecoming," he added. The minister added that the Supreme Court can be informed about the development next week as per legal procedures. He also said that he would take parliament into confidence over the development.

"We will take parliament on board, this will be shared with parliament, because this was a very huge issue while parliament was in session," he added. The Italian marines were on anti-pirate duty aboard cargo ship Enrica Lexie off India's coast in Kerala in February last year when they shot the two fishermen mistaking them to be pirates.

Italy insists the shooting happened in international waters and New Delhi does not have jurisdiction over the matter.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted Rome as saying that 'it has asked and obtained from the Indian authorities written guarantees of the treatment and the recognition of the two marines' fundamental rights as recognized by international law'.

'Following diplomatic contacts Italy informed that Marines will return to India in accordance with timeline provided to Supreme Court,' external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

In another post, he said: 'Intensive diplomatic contacts in last 24 hrs led to Italy informing that Marines will return as per time line set by Supreme Court of India.'

Minister of State for Home R.P.N Singh said: 'This is the result of tough stand of the government articulated by the prime minister in Lok Sabha. I think that is something that we should be clear on and the opposition should take note of that as they have always seems to be pointing at the prime minister and the government.'

Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that the marines – Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone – would return to India by March 22 after voting in the Italian national elections.

Following this, the court had February 22 permitted to leave India to vote in the elections, with the promise that they would return in four weeks. But March 11, the Italy informed India the marines would not be sent back, leading to a diplomatic standoff. The ambassador was restrained by the apex court from leaving India for reneging on his word.

Italy's refusal to send back the two marines had caused a political storm in India with opposition parties slamming the government for its handling of the issue. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured that the government will do 'whatever needs to be done' to bring back the two Italian marines.

UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had termed Italy's refusal as 'outright unacceptable'. 'No country can, should or will be allowed to take India for granted,' she had told Congress MPs March 19.

Courtesy: IANS