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Diplomacy responsible for Italian marines's return: Khurshid

PTI  New Delhi, March 22, 2013
First Published: 10:48 IST(22/3/2013) | Last Updated: 15:52 IST(22/3/2013)

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid Friday said that diplomacy is at work resulting in Italy's decision to send back two marines charged in the fishermen killing case and parried questions on Italian media reports that Congress President Sonia Gandhi influenced that government's decision.

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Welcoming Italy's decision to send back two marines, the minister said the decision has to be conveyed to the Supreme Court through proper procedure and he would apprise Parliament about it.

"I would like as I have said to share whatever developments have happened with Parliament but I can certainly say we have been in constant contact. I have repeatedly said that you should not write off diplomacy to soon... So at last I can say that diplomacy continues to work when everybody else thinks that everything is lost and please give diplomacy a little more chance to do things that are important for our country," he said.

Khurshid also said that "Law remains as it is. Nothing changes as far as the law is concerned and my understanding can't change the law".

Italy last night said it will send back to India two marines to face trial for killing two fishermen after receiving an assurance from the Indian government about the protection of their fundamental rights.

Asked about reports in the Italian media that Gandhi influenced the decision on the marines, he said, "The diplomacy that we do under this government, diplomacy that we do for that matter for any policy implemented by this government is obviously given a direction, given an impetus by the Prime minister and the Congress President.

"It is a government that is led by them and then for anyone else amongst us to take credit I think would be unbecoming. They lead it from the front. We don't share. We cannot share with you everything that is said to us privately within the confines of government but the bottomline of what we are expected to I think becomes clear in the public sphere," he said.

On what would be the BJP's reaction to the decision of the marines to return, Khurshid said, "I don't know whether it is an issue or not an issue but I hope they take it in the right context. I hope that if something has been in the national interest and that bolsters the national interest, it should be welcomed by everybody".

On apprising the Supreme Court about the matter, he said, "No I don't think that the information to the apex court can be given in this manner and the matter is listed on April 2.

"So, they (parties concerned) will have to decide and if they want any modification of the order that was made, there are procedures. The lawyers will be able to follow so that will come in due course. Today is Friday and as you know that the court will not be sitting on Saturday and Sunday.

"So on Monday, if felt appropriate by any party, they can bring it to the notice of the court and it has to be done properly.

"As far as we are concerned, we will take Parliament on board. We will share it with Parliament because this has been a huge issue while Parliament was in session," he said.

Italy's previous decision not to send marines -Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - to face trial triggered a diplomatic standoff, with the Indian Supreme Court barring the Italian ambassador from leaving the country.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh last week termed as "unacceptable" Italy's refusal to send its two marines back to India and said the issue will be taken up with that country.

"In light of the assurances received, the Government has considered the opportunity, in the interests of Fusiliers Marina, to maintain the commitment made at the permission to participate in the vote back in India by March 22," the Italian government had said in a statement.

"The marines agreed to this decision," it added.

Minister of state for home RPN Singh said India's tough stand, articulated by the Prime minister and UPA chairperson, has led to the decision to send back two Italian marines.

"The Prime minister and the UPA chairperson articulated government's tough stand against Italy and it has worked," he said.

"We worked in tandem with the Supreme Court. That is why the marines are returning. Opposition should congratulate the government," he said.

The minister said the Prime minister has always taken a bold stand and government has made it clear that it would not bend on the issue of national interests.

"It is a victory of the Prime minister and the Supreme Court and I think it is an opportunity (for opposition) to understand that you cannot run diplomacy by shouting and screaming," he said.

Law minister Ashwani Kumar said Italy's decision to send back its two marines is a victory of India's Constitution, judicial system and diplomacy.

"The return of Italian marines is a victory of India's Constitution, our diplomacy, judicial system and also vindication of our stand," he told reporters outside Parliament.

"I am delighted at the turn of events. I hope things will be now resolved according to Indian judicial system in a free and fair manner," he said.

The minister said the decision is also a victory of government's foreign policy.

"We have always maintained that our judicial process is free and fair. Italian government has agreed to send marines back to India and this is also the victory of government's foreign policy," he said.

Asked if there are conditions attached to the Italian marines case, the law minister, said, "This is only speculation. It is absolutely untrue that there are any pre-conditions to the outcome of the judicial system.

"Integrity of the Indian judicial system demands that sentencing and finding fault are left entirely to the independent judgement of the judiciary. What will happen eventually is for the court to decide. There is no room for any misconceived speculation in this regard."


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