EU seeking solution to Italy-India row over jailed marines
(BRUSSELS) - The European Union said on Wednesday it is actively seeking a solution to a row between Italy and India over two jailed marines that is causing a political rumpus in Rome.
""We are now undertaking contacts that are aimed at finding a satisfactory solution to this case as soon as possible," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
She said that "the European Union has been following this issue very closely from the very beginning" but had stepped up its efforts at the request of Prime Minister Mario Monti's government.
"Italian authorities in the beginning did not request our assistance," she said.
Italy's government is under pressure at home over the fate of the pair of marines arrested for the killing of two Indian fishermen that risks triggering a diplomatic crisis with India.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were deployed as guards on an Italian oil tanker under a new agreement against piracy when they allegedly shot and killed two fishermen they mistook for pirates on February 15.
They said their ship was approached by a smaller, fast-moving vessel.
Several observers have called into question Italy's attempts to intervene in the case of the marines, who remain in custody in India, and critics say the country would have been better off involving the EU from the outset.
"The government has proceeded in fits and starts, following a wavering and therefore inevitably weak line," read an editorial in the Corriere della Sera daily this week after an Indian court sent the marines to prison.
Italy says the marines should be prosecuted in their homeland because the incident occurred on an Italian-flagged vessel in international waters.
India says the incident took place in its waters off the state of Kerala.
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