The European Union hopes for a “common solution” to the New Delhi-Rome dispute over Italy’s decision not to send back two marines who are facing trial in India for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast.

“The EU continues to hope that a common solution can be reached through negotiation,” Catherine Ashton, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs representative, was quoted as saying by Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud on Friday.

The diplomatic row arose after Rome reneged on its commitment to send back the two marines, who were allowed by the Supreme Court of India on February 22 to go to Italy for four weeks for voting in the country’s general election.

The Italian government claims India does not have jurisdiction in the case as the incident took place in international waters.

Advisory to Italians

Meanwhile, apprehending backlash, Italy has advised its citizens in India to be “vigilant and cautious,” especially in Kerala.

“In connection with any protests, especially in Kerala, related to each of the two sailors, it is recommended to compatriots to maintain an attitude always vigilant and cautious, and stay away from any crowds,” the Italian embassy advisory said in New Delhi.

In another development, the Mayor of the marines’ home town Taranto has offered to provide education to the orphaned children of the two Kerala fishermen.

Mayor Ippazio Stefano has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying his city is ready to welcome the “unfortunate children” to study there, the Italian news agency Adnkronos International has reported.

The Mayor expressed regret over the incident in which Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, deployed aboard an oil tanker, had gunned down the fishermen in February last year.

“I must express my profound regret for what has happened and do not hesitate to reaffirm by personal regard — and that of the city I represent — for the Indian people,” he said, adding, “Friendship between our two countries has been extensive, sincere and loyal, in every area.”

He also praised India for the role its soldiers played in liberating Italy at the end of World War II.

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