Sushma leaves for Vatican to attend Mother Teresa's canonisation

NEW DELHI:  A 12-member delegation led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today left for Rome to attend the canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa on Sunday.

During her three-day visit, Ms Swaraj will also hold bilateral talks with her Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, which will be the first high-level contact between the two countries after the United Nations tribunal's verdict of the return of Italian marines charged with murdering two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.

Arvind Kejriwal along with AAP party leader Kumar Vishwas also left to Vetican for Mother Teresa's sainthood ceremony

According to official sources, Ms Swaraj will meet her Italian counterpart over the weekend during which the two sides will review the status of bilateral ties.

The relationship between India and Italy soured after India detained Italian marines -Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre- on charges of murdering two Indian fishermen.

Unsatisfied with Indian judicial process, Italy moved the UN Tribunal, which in May this year allowed Mr Girone to return pending the trial. Mr Latorre is already in Italy on health grounds.

Apart from the central government delegation, two state government-level delegations from Delhi and West Bengal led by Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee respectively also left for Rome to attend the ceremony.

Ms Swaraj's delegation will comprise Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Lok Sabha MPs Professor K V Thomas, Jose K Mani, Anto Anthony and Conrad K Sangma and Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza.

Others include Judge of Supreme Court Justice Kurian Joseph, eminent lawyer Harish Salve, Secretary General of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India Theodore Mascarenhas and K J Alphons.

Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta will also be part of the delegation.

In March, Pope Francis had announced that Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, will be elevated to sainthood after the Church recognised two miracles attributed to her after her death in 1997.