Return of Italian marines shows effectiveness of Indian diplomacy: Khurshid

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 05:50 hrs

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said that the return of Italian marines shows that diplomacy works.

"Diplomacy has worked when many experts had it written off," he said, and added that he would make a detailed statement in Parliament.

However, Khurshid said that the return of the Italian marines would not change the Supreme Court ruling. "The law will not change, they will have to respect the Supreme Court order," he added.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has confirmed that after intensive diplomatic contacts the Italian government took the decision to send back the marines.

"There have been very intensive diplomatic contacts between Italy and India during the last 24 hours. And in the context of those contacts, Italy has informed at a very senior level to us that they will be sending back the marines to India in accordance with the timeline that has been laid down by the honourable Supreme Court," he said.

"We will have a more detailed statement during the course of the day as you know it is still early. And I would like to assure you that we will provide all the details of the return and on this subject, once we progress further during the course of the day," he added.

The Italian government on Thursday said that it would return to India two marines facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of two fishermen.

The announcement reversed an earlier decision by the Italian Foreign Ministry saying the pair would not return on March 22 as agreed when they were granted permission to return home to vote in Italian elections.

Italy's previous decision not to send the marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - to face trial triggered a diplomatic standoff.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Italy's Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini not to leave the country till April 2, when the next hearing into the killing of two Kerala fishermen allegedly by two Italian marines is scheduled.

The apex court further indicated that all authorities should take appropriate steps on the order restraining the Italian envoy from leaving the country.

Mancini, meanwhile, told the apex court that he had complete immunity under the Vienna Convention.

The apex court said that it would not accept nor does it believe the ambassador's statement, as he had lost trust of the court by going back on his word.

Asserting that there will be consequences if the Italian Government does not respect its commitment and return the two marines to India, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had earlier said that there can be no two opinions about the actions that have been taken by the Italian Government on the matter raised by the members.

"Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the Government of Italy are not acceptable. They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by accredited representatives of a sovereign government to our Supreme Court," said Dr. Singh.

"Our government has therefore insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertakings they have given to the honourable Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India. If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," said Dr. Singh.

The two Italian marines, Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone, charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 after mistaking them for pirates, were permitted by the Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks to vote in last month's election.

The two were allowed to go home during Christmas. They returned to India on the expiry of their leave. (ANI)

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