Amidst a diplomatic row between India and Italy over the fate of two Italian marines, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a peaceful resolution to the issue.
Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February last year in an anti-piracy operation, were permitted by India's Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks for voting in last month's election.
Relations between Italy and India were further strained on Monday when the Italian government announced that marines Latorre and Girone would remain in Italy and not return to India to face murder charges after being allowed to come home to vote by the Apex Court.
Ban's spokesman told reporters yesterday that the Secretary-General has called on both countries to resolve their issues peacefully and in accordance with international law.
The Supreme Court had allowed the marines to go to Italy to cast their vote in the elections there after Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini had given an assurance to send them back.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had 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.
India reviewing ties with Italy
India said on Thursday that it was reviewing "all aspects of our relationship" with Italy following a diplomatic row.
The external affairs ministry said this was part of ongoing efforts after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as unacceptable Italy’s refusal to send back its two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen.
“We have initiated a study of our interactions with Italy,” the ministry’s spokesman told the media here.
“At the end of that internal process, we will take further action that is appropriate taking into account all aspects of our relationship...”
He added: "Based on that study and as the resolution revolves, you will see our response."
The spokesman declined to get into why the Italian marines were allowed to go back to Italy ostensibly to take part in the national election.
The Supreme Court allowed that after the Italian ambassador to India promised that the marines would return to India to face the Indian law.
Responding to Italian argument that it wanted international arbitration, the spokesman said Italy would have to abide by the promise it made to the Indian Supreme Court.
"The first step in terms of inter-state relations or international public law is that agreements ought to be respected, and we expect Italy to (do that)."
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)