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India, Portugal sign extradition treaty

The treaty is signed despite Portugal's objections to the death penalty in India, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 23:28 IST

India and Portugal signed an extradition treaty on Thursday, despite Portuguese objections to the death penalty which exists in India.

Portugal, a pioneer in the abolition of the death penalty, abolished death penalty for all crimes, including those of a military nature, in 1867, a senior Portuguese diplomat said.

The treaty, an important symbol of mutual confidence, comes over a year after underworld operative Abu Salem was sent back to India by Portuguese authorities in November 2005.

Indian ambassador to Portugal Nilima Mitra had told Hindustan Times in Lisbon last week that the agreement was ready, but Portuguese authorities had indicated they had objections and the treaty was unlikely to be finalised in time for the president's visit, that began on Wednesday.

A group of senior Portuguese officials from their Justice Department held intensive discussions over the past few days to conclude the agreement, a Portuguese diplomat said. The treaty is similar to those India has with other European countries like France, Germany and Bulgaria, a senior official said.

The treaty was signed in the presence of visiting Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after they held detailed talks on the future of bilateral relations.

The extradition treaty was signed by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and Professor Joao Gomes Cravinho, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The two countries also signed an agreement on cultural cooperation for the period 2007-2009, an agreement on cooperation in the field of education, language, science, technology and higher education for the period 2007-2010, and an agreement in the field of education, science, culture, sports, youth and mass media for the period 2007-2010.

On the first official day of his visit, the Portuguese president was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, followed by meetings with the prime minister, leader of the opposition LK Advani and Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. He is being hosted at a banquet by President APJ Abdul Kalam on Thursday night.

The primary aim of President Cavaco Silva's visit is to build economic relations with India. The quantum of bilateral trade is less than a meagre $250 million annually.

First Published: Jan 11, 2007 20:53 IST