Italy on Wednesday sought to invoke “international laws” to resolve the stand-off with India over the trial of its two marines. However, New Delhi insisted that the duo’s return to face legal proceedings should be seen separately from its differences with Rome over the United Nations Convention for Law of Sea (UNCLOS).
New Delhi remained firm on its position that the Italian government must respect its undertaking to the Supreme Court of India and ensure return of the marines. India is likely to wait till March 22, the day when the four-week leave granted by the Supreme Court expires, before making its next move.
Speculations are rife that Rome’s envoy to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini, may be declared persona non grata and asked to leave.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Wednesday said New Delhi had made its position clear and was waiting for a response from Rome. “We have conveyed to the Italian government that the contents of their note are completely unacceptable to us. We are waiting for their response. And, as soon as their response is received, we will take a decision on what to do,” Mathai told journalists.
Mancini, on behalf of the Italian government, had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on February 9, taking full responsibility of ensuring the marines’ return. The duo had gone to Italy to cast votes in the Italian parliamentary elections.
“We are not retracting. We are working with the Indian government. You cannot consider the affidavit separate from the suggestions, proposals and ideas that we have been passing to the Indian interlocutors. This is a part of the process,” Mancini said on Wednesday.
The foreign secretary on Tuesday summoned Italy’s ambassador to India to convey that New Delhi had rejected Rome’s argument that the two marines will not return in the wake of the “international dispute” between the two countries over the UNCLOS rules.
“Italy has stated its readiness to start negotiations on such basis. Since there has been no reaction from India in this regard we have come to the conclusion that it is appropriate to solve the legal dispute according to the international law,” the embassy of Italy in New Delhi said in a statement.
“The Note Verbale sent by the embassy to the external affairs ministry on March 11 was intended to give the opportunity to settle the dispute through the consensual means offered to the parties by the international law with the aim of defining a legally sound solution to the case,” it said.
“This is consistent with Italy’s position since we have continuously advocated a settlement of the case according to the rules of international law.”