"The Secretary-General is concerned that this long-standing matter between Italy and India remains unresolved and is prompting tensions between two friendly and important Member States of the Organisation," UN Chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters. (Agencies)
Nesirky's remarks came as European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said after a UN Security Council meeting here yesterday that the EU is "deeply worried" about the two marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone being prosecuted in an Indian court under anti-terrorism legislation.
Marines Latorre and Girone shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions between India and Italy. The marines are now staying in the Italian Embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial. Nesirky said Ban feels it is important that India and Italy "seek to come to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution" over the issue.
"He is concerned that the matter may have implications for wider common efforts and collaboration around matters of international peace and security, including anti-piracy operations," Nesirky added.
Ashton, who met the UN Chief at the world body's headquarters, said the EU is in contact with India and is working "very very closely" with Italian colleagues. "We are deeply worried about the situation where the marines might be taken to court and prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation," Ashton said.
Even though Nesirky said the Secretary-General had spoken by telephone with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Wednesday, he did not give details of their conversation. When asked if the UN Chief has contacted or plans to speak with any representative of the Indian government over the issue, Nesirky refused to comment.
Earlier this week, Nesirky had said the UN or Ban had no comments to offer on the Italian Foreign Minister approaching the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the marines issue, saying it is a "bilateral matter".
Italy has petitioned the UN over the trial of its marines in India, saying it would exercise "all options" to bring back its naval personnel.
"The Secretary-General is concerned that this long-standing matter between Italy and India remains unresolved and is prompting tensions between two friendly and important Member States of the Organisation," UN Chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters.