New Delhi: A day after sending out a stern warning to Italy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday and reports indicate that the issue of the Italian marines is likely to be discussed. This could include what punitive actions need to be taken in the stand off with Italy.
Meanwhile, there are reports of differences within the government over Italian ambassador to India Daniele Mancini's diplomatic immunity. While the Home Ministry has asked the External Affairs Ministry to ensure the ambassador is not able to invoke his diplomatic immunity, the MEA has cited the Vienna convention to say doing so would affect Indian diplomats abroad.
Sources had earlier indicated that the Italian Ambassador may be asked to leave. The Italian ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, has, however, said that he will not leave India until he is made persona non grata, meaning an unwelcome person, over the Italian marines row.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to discuss the Italian marines issue.
"I will not leave this country till a competent authority makes me persona non grata.. I am more than glad to live in this country for years to come," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function when asked whether he was afraid that he may be asked to leave the country.
Meanwhile, Italy has insisted it is on solid legal ground in seeking international arbitration in the case. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi told reporters in Israel, "We have juridically solid reasons to proceed in the direction of international arbitration The Indian government is amply apprised of all it needs to know about our reasons, as do many of our partners."
There was ruckus in Parliament over the issue on Wednesday with the BJP claiming collusion between New Delhi and Rome. Following this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did speak tough, warning Italy of grave consequences if the marines were not sent back for trial in the Indian fishermen killings case. "They have violated every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by an accredited representative of a government," Singh said in the Lok Sabha which witnessed uproar during Question Hour as well as Zero Hour over the issue.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also met the Prime Minister and discussed the issue on Wednesday. After the meeting Chandy said the marines will have to come back to India to face trial in the Kerala fishermen murder case.
The Supreme Court had given them permission to stay out of the country only till March 22. The two marines are facing trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, mistaking them for pirates.