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Italy's decision will have consequences on ties: Manmohan

Italy
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Taking a tough stand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday accused Italy of violating 'every rule of diplomatic discourse' and asked it to send...

Taking a tough stand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday 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. Responding to the issue raised by the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, Dr. Singh 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. Urging the Italian authorities to respect the undertaking given to the Supreme Court, he said they should return the two accused -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- to stand trial here for the incident of February last year. "They have violated every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by an accredited representative of a government," Dr. Singh said in the Lok Sabha which witnessed uproar during Question Hour as well as Zero Hour. The Prime Minister, who made a similar statement in Rajya Sabha, said the government has already made it clear that this action by the Italian government is "not acceptable". "If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," Dr. Singh said firmly, adding that bilateral relationship has to function on the basis of trust. Assuring Parliament that the government would continue to urge Italy through diplomatic channels to send back the marines, he wanted the members to act and speak together while dealing with the matter with the seriousness that it deserves. The Prime Minister's response came after former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Basudeb Acharia (CPI(M)) attacked the government on the issue with the BJP leader dubbing the action of the Italian government as a "very curious Italian job". Rajya Sabha also witnessed uproar over it with demands for arrest of the Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini. As Opposition and allies came down heavily on Government in Rajya Sabha demanding action including arrest of the Italian ambassador, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath assured the members that the government will address the matter with all the firmness it deserves. He also expressed his readiness to accept the demand of some members for a "comprehensive discussion" on the issue. Dissatisfied with the minister's statement, members from CPI(M) and BJP trooped into the Well and shouted slogans forcing the Chair to adjourn the House for half an hour. When the House reassembled at 1300 hours, the Prime Minister made a brief statement on the issue after which Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House till 2 p.m. Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the two marines "absconded" as a result of "deception and outright fraud" due to which India stands "deceived". Noting that Italian laws did not require them to be physically present to cast their votes as they could have exercised their franchise even through mail, Mr. Jaitley said their act of approaching Indian government for sending Italian marines back to that country appears "pre-scripted". Terming this as "first such case of state-sponsored abduction...and state-sponsored deception", he said, "When you deal with Romans, deal as Romans do." Mr. Jaitley said he seriously doubted whether the Italian Ambassador, who had submitted before the Supreme Court in this matter, should continue to enjoy diplomatic privileges. Alluding to Bofors scam accused Ottavio Quattrocchi without naming him and the recent AgustaWestland deal in which the Italian government refused to accept India's requests, he said "it's time for Government of India to act, when they have broken every norm... "Time has come since we have seen such a thing happening for the third consecutive time. You should forget diplomatic niceties...this should be treated as enemy action. Government of India must respond." V Maitreyan (AIADMK) said the Government of India should arrest the Italian ambassador and give justice. P Rajeeve (CPI(M)) also wanted to know whether the government was ready to take action against the Italian ambassador. PTI
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