New Delhi: India has today said there was no link between its bid for membership in the nuclear export control regimes, of which Italy is a member, and the marines issue, dismissing suggestion that the two countries were working on a quid pro quo deal.
"It's known that marines issue is in international arbitration under UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). They are two separate issues, each will be handled on its merits," the External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson tweeted.
The Spokesperson's reaction came amid reports that India was secretly negotiating a deal with Italy under which the government will not object to any Italian plea in the case of marines, who are charged with killing two Kerala fishermen and Rome will not object to India's membership of export control regimes.
The two Italian marines are charged with killing the two fishermen off India's coast on February 15, 2012. While Massimiliano Latorre, one of the marines, is in Italy on medical grounds since September last year, Italy is making efforts before the Supreme Court to allow Salvatore Girone, the other marine, also to return.
Italy, a member of all four export control regimes that control the world's trade in nuclear supplies including Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Wassenaar Arrangement had in September vetoed India's membership application to the MTCR