Italian foreign minister in India on Tuesday

Italian foreign minister in India on Tuesday

By: || Updated: 26 Feb 2012 03:28 AM

New Delhi/Kochi: With his deputy unable to break the impasse with
India over the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast,
Italy's foreign minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant' Agata is arriving on
a two-day visit on Tuesday to push a resolution of the crisis that
threatens to cast a shadow on bilateral ties.

The Italian foreign minister's visit to India was scheduled much before
the February 15 incident in which two Italian marines on board an Italian
ship shot dead two Indian fishermen, mistaking them for pirates, but the
shooting row has lent the visit an added significance.

In fact, this would be the first high level visit from Italy since the new
government was formed there in November last year.

External affairs minister SM Krishna will hold talks with his Italian
counterpart and discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual
interest, the external affairs ministry said here Sunday while formally
announcing the much-speculated visit.

Besides bilateral relations, the situation in Afghanistan, the Iranian
nuclear crisis and the eurozone crisis are among global issues that are
expected to figure in the discussions, said informed sources.

Terzi's visit comes days after Italy's deputy foreign minister Staffan de
Mistura held talks with Indian officials and also met Kerala chief
minister Oommen Chandy to find a diplomatic solution to ease the crisis
over the fishermen's killing.

But the positions of the two sides remain poles apart as India maintains
that the arrested Marines should be tried according to the Indian Penal
Code while Italy has insisted that the incident took place in
international waters.

However, the two sides indicated partial accommodation when the Kerala
court hearing the shooting case allowed joint ballistic examination of the
weapons used in the killing, which started on Saturday and is expected to
be complete before the Italian foreign minister comes on Tuesday.

There is a strong possibility that the Italian foreign minister offers a
hefty compensation package to the slain fishermen.

The two Italian marines, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, the
security officials on board the Enrica Lexie, have been arrested for
shooting dead two Indian fishermen on February 15 after mistaking them to
be pirates.

Three days ago, a court in Kollam had extended the police custody of the
marines after police told the judge they needed more time to interrogate

The next hearing will be on Tuesday, the day the Italian foreign minister
touches down.

Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, were mistaken for pirates and shot
dead by the marines from the Italian cargo vessel on February 15, off
Alappuzha in Kerala.

The two sisters of Binki have filed a petition in the high court demanding
Rs 2 crore (around $400,000) as compensation. Gelastine's wife has filed a
petition demanding a compensation of Rs 1 crore (around $200,000).

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