We risked getting isolated, internationally says Italian PM

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But economic interests didn*t influence decision to send back marines, Premier tells Parliament

Outlining the reasons for sending back to India the two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast, the outgoing Prime Minister, Mario Monti, said Rome faced a serious risk of being isolated internationally and could have opened a crisis of “serious proportions” with New Delhi.

As for the abrupt resignation of his Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, Mr. Monti said he quit with motives not limited to the marines issue. The Premier, who himself was sworn in as interim Foreign Minister to replace Mr. Terzi, said Italy, in its diplomatic row with India, risked ruining relations with key trade allies in the developing world but denied that economics was a factor in the decision-making process. Mr. Monti said he was “stunned” by Mr. Terzi’s decision, adding his former chief diplomat gave no warning of his quitting, Italian news agency INSA reported.

On Tuesday, Mr. Terzi resigned claiming that his voice went “unheard” as the caretaker Cabinet decided to send back Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to India, 10 days after Italy reneged on a pledge to return the marines, who had been granted a four-week leave. Mr. Monti, addressing Parliament on Wednesday night, stressed the diplomatic stakes. “There were serious and objective risks that Italy would find itself isolated in the international community,” if it had failed to ensure that the duo returned to India. “It would have opened a crisis of serious proportions with India.” Since the marines returned, relations had improved between the two countries and that should lead to “a quick solution”. — PTI

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