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India downgrades ties with Italy, won`t send Ambassador

India is downgrading its diplomatic ties with Italy and asked its Ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta not to proceed to take up his posting.

New Delhi: Angered by Italy reneging on its commitment to send back its two marines, India is downgrading its diplomatic ties with it which means there will be no Ambassador-level representation between the two countries.

India`s Ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta was asked not to proceed to Rome as a review of entire gamut of ties with Italy was underway by the government.

Government sources said, "The decision of not sending Mr Gupta to assume his position is tantamount to the fact that India wants to keep diplomatic ties with Italy at a level lesser than the Ambassador."

Gupta being asked not to proceed to Rome creates an unusual situation for Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini who would in the normal course be asked to leave but his case is before the Supreme Court which has restrained him from leaving India without its permission.

The apex court passed the order after it was brought to its notice that the Republic of Italy has reneged on its assurance given through its Ambassador to the Supreme Court. Mancini has been asked by the Court to respond by Monday.

Therefore, the government may inform the apex court about downgrading of diplomatic ties and depending on the court`s view, it may decide about Mancini accordingly.

Meanwhile, all the exit points, including airports across the country have been alerted to prevent the Italian Ambassador from leaving the country. The decision was taken by the Union Home Ministry, official sources said.

Yesterday, the government had also announced decision to initiate review of entire gamut of relations with Italy which includes diplomatic, trade and defence ties apart from reaching out to European Union, which was briefed on India`s views and position in the matter.

Official spokesman in the Ministry of External Affairs had said the "entire expanse of our interaction" with Italy was being reviewed while stressing that Italy has to "respect and abide" by the agreements between it and the Supreme Court.

The two marines --Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone--facing trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen last year, were permitted by the apex court on February 22 to go to Italy for four weeks for voting in election and directed to return within four weeks.


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