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Deals with Mauritius

New Delhi, Nov. 21: India and Mauritius today signed several agreements, including an extradition treaty, to signal the strong ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee hosted a banquet for his Mauritian counterpart Paul Raymond Berenger this evening where they held wide-ranging discussions on issues of mutual benefit and concern.

Besides the extradition treaty, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in non-conventional energy sources and agreements on the purchase of Dornier aircraft and setting up of the World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius were signed.

Berengerís accession to the Prime Ministerís chair this September had been a cause of worry for the Indian leadership. Berenger became the first-ever person of non-Indian origin to take over the post in the history of independent Mauritius.

The island nation has over 68 per cent Indians and more than half the population consists of Hindus. It has traditionally been considered by India as its pocket borough and is strategically important for Delhi.

However, by deciding to visit India soon after becoming Prime Minister, Berenger has been able to put at rest a lot of South Blockís concerns. His trip is being described as yet another act to re-affirm the close ties the two countries share.

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