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Salman Khurshid meets PM to discuss Italian marines row

PTI  New Delhi, March 14, 2013
First Published: 10:48 IST(14/3/2013) | Last Updated: 13:12 IST(14/3/2013)

As speculation grew about India's next move on the Italian marines issue, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after which he indicated action will be taken against the Italian Ambassador in New Delhi.

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Khurshid said everything will be done to ensure that "dignity and primacy" of India in this matter is preserved after Italy reneged on its assurance given to the Supreme Court.

Khurshid met the Prime Minister at his residence against the backdrop of Italy's refusal to send back the two marines to face trial on charges of killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast last year.

Asked by reporters if the government will take action against ambassador Daniele Mancini, Khurshid said, "We will. As we take steps will let you know. We have to take steps and there is no question that we won't take steps."     

Khurshid said government will have to work in coordination with whatever happens in the Supreme Court and it will need to factor that into any decisions taken.

"We need to keep the court informed about all decisions," he said, adding, "the matter will be treated with greatest urgency."
The minister gave his assessment of the diplomatic standoff between India and Italy even as attorney general AGGE Vahanvati brought to the Supreme Court's notice that the Republic of Italy has reneged on its assurance given to the apex court.

Khurshid earlier said that the attorney general has been asked to bring to the notice of the Apex Court the developments concerning Italy's refusal to send back the marines.

"Everything that is necessary to ensure that the dignity and primacy of India in this matter will be preserved, I can assure you that" he said.

Asked whether the Italian ambassador will be sent back, Khurshid said, "I can't give any answers today."      

"We have to factor in a lot of issues and aspirations and feelings of our own people are of paramount...and which will be kept in mind," Khurshid said, and referred to deep concern expressed by the prime minister on the matter in Parliament on Wednesday.

Singh, on Wednesday, noted that the country is agitated over Italy's action which is "unacceptable" and said the government will pursue diplomatic channels to bring the two marines back.

Taking a tough stand, the Prime Minister also accused Italy of violating "every rule of diplomatic discourse" and asked it to send back the two marines undergoing trial for killing Indian fishermen, failing which there will be consequences on bilateral ties.

The two accused marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - were permitted by the Supreme Court on February 22 to go to Italy for four weeks to cast their votes in general elections following a written assurance by Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini that they will return by March 22. There are also demands that the Ambassador be expelled from the country.

Asked whether the government was on a sound wicket on the marines issue, Khurshid said, "It's a matter that we rather have the court finally pronounce on. We have analysed it.

The attorney general will put forward to the SC what our understanding is and what his advise has been. The court will then take a final call. And hopefuly that will take it forward and address some of the concerns being felt in the country."      

Asked whether the Italian ambasador has diplomatic immunity in the matter, Khurshid said the attorney general is talking to the court and then he will let the government know.


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