PM Gentiloni’s visit: India-Italy to reset ties after marines’ dispute : The Tribune India

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PM Gentiloni’s visit: India-Italy to reset ties after marines’ dispute

NEW DELHI: India and Italy will pick up the threads of official bilateral dialogue after a decade on Monday. Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni accompanied by First Lady Emanuela Mauro Gentiloni will arrive on a state visit in Delhi on Sunday morning.

PM Gentiloni’s visit: India-Italy to reset ties after marines’ dispute

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July 2017.— File photo



Smita Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 27

India and Italy will pick up the threads of official bilateral dialogue after a decade on Monday. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni accompanied by First Lady Emanuela Mauro Gentiloni will arrive on a state visit in Delhi on Sunday morning.

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The last visit of an Italian head of state to India was in February 2007.

Strengthening political and economic ties in a changed global environment and normalising relations post the Italian marines’ controversy will be key during the visit. 

The bilateral relationship hit a low and went into deep freeze after two Italian marines onboard the vessel MV Enrica Lexie were arrested by India on charges of killing two fishermen and endangering lives of nine others off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012.

The marines argued that they shot the fishermen in self defence mistaking them to be armed pirates, and the incident occurred on international waters outside of Indian jurisdiction, which Delhi disputes. The two marines after being under house arrest for two and four years were allowed to return to Italy on health grounds while the matter is pending in the apex court as well as The Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague.

As per sources, Italy had even sought a third country trial which when turned down, it objected to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group at the Plenary session in Seoul in 2016.

The European Union Summit had been derailed too following diplomatic tension between India and Italy over the marines’ issue. Gentiloni’s visit offers a chance to reset ties. He will hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and also deliver a public address at a think tank event before his departure from Delhi.

Gentiloni will be accompanied by a 15-member Italian CEOs’ delegation.

Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in European Union with bilateral trade at $8.79 billion in 2016-17. Over 600 Italian companies are operating in India in various sectors, including fashion, garments, textile, automotive, automotive components industry, infrastructure, chemicals, energy, confectionery, insurance.

A number of Indian companies are also present in Italy mainly in IT, electronics, engineering, automotive, pharmaceuticals and railway sectors. Italy is the 13th largest investor in India with cumulative investments worth $ 2.41 billion over the period April 2000 -- June 2017. 

Terrorism, the global fight against ISIS, security situation in Afghanistan with Italy as a NATO member and India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group will also figure in talks among other issues.

There are some 180,000 Indians in Italy, the third largest diaspora population in EU after UK and Netherlands.

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