The government is keen on sealing an extradition pact with Nepal that would include the handing over of third country nationals — a proposal pending for almost a decade now — as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj began her visit to that country.
India and Nepal had signed an extradition treaty in 1953, but since that didn’t include extradition of third country nationals, especially those indulging in terrorist activities and smuggling of fake currency, India has been insisting on signing a new treaty. Nepal has been citing political instability as a main reason for not being unable to push through such a crucial pact.
“The entire gamut of bilateral issues including the extradition treaty will be discussed during the Indian external affairs minister’s visit,” said Nepal foreign ministry spokesperson Deepak Dhital.
But any breakthrough is unlikely soon. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s foreign affairs adviser Dinesh Bhattarai told journalists earlier this month that since the issue is “highly sensitive” it would take more time. However, from Indian point of view signing an extradition treaty will be an important step to mark the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal early next month.
Sushma Swaraj said Nepal stands high on the priority list of the new Indian government as she arrived in Kathmandu for a meeting of the Joint Commission, taking place after a gap of 23 years.
The meeting will have five clusters — political, security and border issues; economic co-operation and infrastructure; trade and transit; power and water resources; and culture, education and media. Her visit is also expected to prepare the ground for a two-day visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Nepal from August 3 on a two-day official trip, the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister over 17 years.