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Nepal treaty on revision road

New Delhi, Jan. 27: India is trying to bring a clause in an updated extradition treaty with Nepal that will enable the two countries to hand over not only each otherís nationals, but also those of a third country.

An Indian team will be leaving for Kathmandu next month to finalise the treaty and an agreement on providing mutual legal assistance on criminal matters.

The two sides had signed an extradition treaty in the early 1950s. But that was mainly to take care of petty criminal activities. Now, with terrorism the focus of the world and a major problem in the sub-continent, South Block feels it is time the treaty was updated.

Over the past few years, Kathmandu had become a base for Pakistanís ISI to carry out its activities against India. The Christmas-eve hijacking of the Indian Airlines Airbus 814 from Kathmandu in 1999 had exposed the extent to which Pakistan had infiltrated the Nepalese system.

Though Nepal has been cooperating with India to curb terrorist activities, it is yet to be seen whether Kathmandu will agree to include the provision of extraditing third-country nationals in the treaty. Such a clause will not only create a controversy within the country, but is likely to strain Nepalís relations with Pakistan.

But Nepal also stands to gain from an updated treaty. The government has often expressed concern that Maoist leaders slip through the porous border to take shelter in India whenever things get too hot for them in Nepal.

With special emphasis on the fight against terror, the two sides can work out an agreement that will help them take effective action to fight the menace.

But a recent interview by Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai in a Nepalese daily has substantiated Indiaís claim that it is not giving sanctuary to the militants.

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