Italy and India sign 6 bilateral agreements

Indian Prime Miniter Narendra Modi with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

India and Italy agreed to enhance cooperation to counter terrorism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni on Monday. They also signed six agreements in energy, trade and railway sectors.

Italian PM with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Gentiloni’s visit is aimed at smoothening the tension between the two countries over the Italian marines issue, which has become a sore-point in the relationship since February 2012. His visit is the first prime ministerial trip from Italy in more than a decade. Addressing the media with Gentiloni, Modi said they discussed wide-ranging issues, including the challenges posed by terrorism and cyber crimes, while agreeing to enhance cooperation to counter them. He also noted that there was a huge potential for enhancing India-Italy trade ties.

Addressing a joint media event with Gentiloni, Modi said they discussed wide-ranging issues, including the challenges posed by terrorism and cyber crimes, while agreeing to enhance cooperation to counter them.

They also called on all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens, their infrastructure and networks and halting cross-border movement of terrorists, a joint statement issued after the meeting said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.

 

After the talks, Modi said, “There is a lot of potential for our bilateral trade of about 8.8 billion dollars to grow much further. I am glad that a high-level business delegation has accompanied Prime Minister Gentiloni on this visit. In our interaction with industry leaders from both countries, we felt a lot of optimism among them for the future potential for cooperation.”

There was, however, no mention of the issue of two Italian marines, who have been allowed to return home while the trial is still pending against them for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012. Neither Modi mentioned the issue during his press statement after the bilateral talks, nor there was mention of it in the joint statement.

The India-Italy diplomatic ties took a hit after two Italian marines — Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — on board a ship named Enrica Lexie, were arrested for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.

Italy claimed the ship was in international waters and that only the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) should apply. It also moved the international court.

While Latorre returned to Italy in September 2014 following an order of the Supreme Court issued on health grounds, Girone was allowed to go in May 2016.

They are now in Italy, pending the verdict by the arbitration court at the Hague. The India-Italy diplomatic row also impacted the European Union’s relationship with India.

India’s exports to Italy were at $4.90 billion, while its imports were at $3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of $1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, bilateral trade has reached $3.22 billion.

After the talks, Modi said, “There is a lot of potential for our bilateral trade of about 8.8 billion dollars to grow much further. I am glad that a high-level business delegation has accompanied Prime Minister Gentiloni on this visit. In our interaction with industry leaders from both countries, we felt a lot of optimism among them for the future potential for cooperation.”