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MEA summons Italian envoy, says ‘decision not to send marines to India is unacceptable’

New Delhi, Mar. 12 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday summoned Italian Ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, over Rome’s refusal to send back two marines charged with the killing two Indian fishermen, and made it clear that this move is unacceptable.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who summoned the Italian Ambassador to his office at the South Block here, said the latter has been conveyed the Indian Government’s position in this regard.

“We summoned the Ambassador of Italy. I summoned him to my office and basically what I told him is that the contents of note, which was given to us conveying the position of the Government of Italy regarding the two marines is not acceptable to us,” he told media here.

Mathai said Italy is obliged under the terms of the assurance given to the Supreme Court that the two marines return in the time frame.

“There was an offer of discussions, which had been made in a note from the Italians on the 6th of March; that is a separate issue from the assurance, which was given to our Supreme Court on the basis of which the Supreme Court had allowed the two marines to go back to Italy for a short period of time,” said Mathai.

“As far as we are concerned, Italy is obliged under the terms of that assurance to ensure that the two marines return in the time frame given by the Supreme Court. Basically, that is the position I took in the meeting, which I had when I summoned the Ambassador of Italy a little while ago,” he added.

When asked to comment on the response of the Italian envoy, Mathai said the former has taken note of New Delhi’s position and would convey it to Rome.

“He simply took note of the position conveyed to him that the message which we had received from his embassy was not acceptable. And he said he would convey that to his authorities, to his government in Rome,” he said.

This move of the MEA came after Italian Foreign Ministry made it clear that the marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen would not return to India when their court-allowed leave ends this month.

Terming the last developments as unacceptable, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh earlier today told Left MPs from Kerala that he will ask External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to take up the issue with Italy.

Khurshid earlier in the day made it clear that India will respond only after going through Italy’s response.

“I know it’s a Supreme Court’s decision, but it’s also a matter of our country’s collective decision. We can’t pass the ball on to anybody. Let’s just read what is said. Let’s understand their position and we will respond,” he said.

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)