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Italy's refusal to send back naval guards unacceptable: PM

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Italys refusal to send back naval guards unacceptable: PM
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday termed as "unacceptable" Italy's refusal to send its two naval guards back to India where they were facing trial for killing two fishermen and said the issue will be taken up with that country.

Singh conveyed this to delegations of Kerala MPs from Left and Congress, who met him separately to express anguish and demand his intervention in the "serious" matter.

The Prime Minister said it was "unacceptable", according to CPM MPs K N Balagopal and M B Rajesh.

Singh told the Left MPs that he will ask external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to take up the issue with Italy.

His comments came in the wake of Italian foreign ministry's statement that the naval guards Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will not return to India from Italy where they had gone to cast vote in last month's elections after special permission granted by the Supreme Court.

The two naval guards are facing trial for allegedly killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February last year, mistaking them for pirates.

The Italian ministry claimed India had not responded to its requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a formal dispute between the two countries over the terms of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.

Khurshid said the government is studying Italy's decision, its reasons as also implications.

"We will study and take a rightful position... We will take informed position," he told reporters on the issue which is very sensitive in Kerala politics.

Rajesh said, "We met the Prime Minister and took up the issue of Italian marines. The Prime Minister told us that he came to know about this from newspapers. He assured us that he will ask the External Affairs Minister to look into this issue to intervene in this issue."

PTI

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