PM warns Italy of ‘consequences', envoy says need 'consensual' end

Daniele Mancini

Under attack from the Opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament on Wednesday that if Italy does not send back its two marines to face trial in India for killing two fishermen, there will be "consequences".

"Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the Government of Italy are not acceptable. This cannot, by any standards, be in the interests of any bilateral relationship that has to function on the basis of trust. If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," said Singh.

Government sources told The Indian Express that New Delhi will wait till March 22, which is the deadline for the two marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, to return, before initiating any retaliatory response.

Meanwhile, Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini, who was summoned by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai yesterday, said his country has not gone back on its assurance to the Supreme Court.

"No, we are not retracting (on the assurance). We are working with the Indian government. You cannot consider the affidavit separate from all the others..., from the suggestions, proposals and ideas that we have been passing to the Indian interlocutors. This is a part of the process," he said on the sidelines of an event, referring to Rome's proposal to resolve the issue through diplomatic dialogue.

Mancini said Italy wants to resolve the issue by "consensual" means. "For us, the supremacy of the international law needs to be re-assessed... we put a number of proposals to the Indian authorities to solve this case by consensual means. This is what we still want to be doing," he said.

When asked if Mancini would be asked to leave, Mathai said: "I think we have made our position very clear....We are awaiting their response. As soon as the response is received, we will take a decision on what to do."

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