Italian envoy free to move: Khurshid

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 07:01 hrs

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the Italian envoy in India Daniele Mancini is free to move amid reports of alerts on airports preventing him to leave the country over the Italian marine row, though he called the decision of Italy to not send back the marines facing trial in India as totally unacceptable.

Khushid speaking to TV channels, when told that the action of Italy has left India red-faced, said "in the world of diplomacy sometimes things happen" adding that the Italian action is utterly and totally unacceptable.

He said the Supreme Court has issued notice to the envoy and one should wait till Monday for further court action.

Khurshid also said that it is grossly unfair to link Sonia Gandhi to the issue because of her Italian origin.

Khurshid also told a channel that India has not downgraded its diplomatic mission in Italy since there are economic implications to it.

"Decisions cannot be taken in vacuum. One has to look at the implications, the intensity of the relationship in the past and the attitude that other countries will take. Any decision of this nature involves sacrifices as well. If one has to take a stand, one has to be ready to pay a price for it," Khurshid told NDTV.

The Supreme Court on Thursday had restrained Mancini from leaving the country.

Mancini had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that he would ensure that the two marines returned to India after they were allowed to go to Italy for taking part in the voting in that country.

Issuing a notice to the ambassador based on the response to the court by India's Attorney General, the Supreme Court asked Mancini to respond to its notice by Mar 18. The case would be heard again on Mar 19.

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy also filed a contempt of court petition before the apex court seeking action against the Italian ambassador for failing to honour the commitment to the apex court.

India's Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai earlier summoned Mancini to lodge a strong protest by India over their action and breach of trust.

The marines were to return by March 22.

The Supreme Court on Feb 22 had allowed the two Italian marines- Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone-to travel to Italy to cast their votes in the country's elections.

Accusing Indian authorities of violating international rights by detaining the marines, Italy's Foreign Ministry said it was “open” to let an international arbitrator to assess the case.

They said India had not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a “dispute” between the two countries over the terms of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.

On Feb 15, 2012, the security officials of Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala. They were subsequently arrested.

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