Ashok Tuteja, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 28. India and Italy today failed to resolve their differences over who should probe the killings of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the Kerala coast earlier this month.
The two countries, however, pledged not to allow the incident to cast a shadow on bilateral ties. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna held wide-ranging talks here this afternoon with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’ Agata.
However, the February 15 incident in which the two Indian fishermen were killed is understood to have dominated the talks.
Addressing a joint press conference after their meeting, the two ministers were quite forthright in restating the positions of their respective countries. Italy is insisting that the incident should be tried according to international laws since it took place in international waters. India, however, maintains that since the incident involved an Indian vessel and those killed were Indian nationals, the two Italians would be tried under Indian laws.
“We met in the backdrop of an unfortunate incident involving the death of two Indian fishermen and the subsequent detention of two Italian navy personnel. There is strong public opinion on both sides,” Krishna said. He said the Italian minister had agreed that their two countries ‘need to clear the air’ so that their people were reassured of their will and commitment to strengthen the bilateral partnership.
Krishna said the relations between the two countries were mature and based on strong foundations. The Italian minister, who was here on a visit planned much before the February 15 incident, regretted the deaths but underlined that there were differences between the two countries over the jurisdiction issue. “I have explained frankly the position of our government on the legal aspect. International laws should try the Italian men. There is difference of opinion on this and it has not been resolved,” he said.
The Italian minister is also going to Kerala to meet the families of the two fishermen. He is also likely to meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today thanked his Italian counterpart for assuring his personal attention to alleviate the difficulties being faced by members of the Sikh community in Italy. There have been reports of Sikhs being asked to remove their turbans at the security check at the Italian airports.
- Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’ Agata regretted the deaths but underlined that there were differences between the two countries over the jurisdiction issue
- Agata said his government’s position is clear on the legal aspect. “International laws should try the Italian men. There is difference of opinion on this and it has not been resolved,” he said
- The Italian minister is going to Kerala to meet the families of the two fishermen