Sushma’s Vatican visit likely to improve India-Italy ties

August 14, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, August 9, 2016: India and Italy will look to boost ties, overcoming acrimony over last four years on the marine issue, when foreign minister Sushma Swaraj visits Rome for Mother Teresa’s canonisation next month.

Swaraj, on her maiden visit abroad since her indisposition, may meet her Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni in Rome to explore ways to mend India-Italy ties.

Swaraj and Gentiloni are expected discuss ways to step up bilateral trade and economic relations, apart from exploring prospects of cooperation in counter-terrorism and security matters, indicated people familiar with the developments. Italy is among top 20 investors in the country.

Around 140 large Italian companies are active in India.

While the marine issue is no longer dominating proceedings between the two countries, Swaraj’s visit could kick-start a process to restore normalcy in India-Italy ties. The relations between the two nations touched a low in the past four years after two Italian marines — Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone aboard Enrica Lexie — shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast mistaking them for Somalian pirates and were arrested by the police and put on trial.

With Latorre and Girone now back in Italy, both New Delhi and Rome look for a high-level bilateral engagement to put back ties on track. In what could be viewed as an attempt to mend ties with India, Italian PM Matteo Renzi who had originally planned to include Latorre and Girone in his country’s republic day parade decided that the marines case “should not be exploited.”

India secured Italy’s support for memberships to MTCR and NSG when the second marine returned home few months back. Italy was the only holdout to India’s entry into the coveted Missile Technology Control Regime.

Swaraj’s visit to Vatican for the canonisation of Mother Teresa on September 4 is likely to provide an opportunity for furthering Indo-Italian cooperation. It remains to be seen if Swaraj also calls on Italian premier Matteo Renzi. There have been no high level visits between the two countries over the past few years.

– economic times

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