Nirupama Rao's Nepal visit highlights India's security concerns

Nirupama Rao's Nepal visit highlights India's security concerns

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, left, meets with Nepal Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, in Kathmandu. AP

Rao, who concluded her two-day visit Tuesday meeting Nepal's embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, has reiterated India's security concerns and the use of Nepali territory for anti-India activities.

The renewed concern comes after Indian police made several arrests related to terror attacks and smuggling of fake currency in which the arrested people were found to have links to Nepal.
At a press conference before her departure Tuesday, Rao said the alliance government of Nepal has given an unequivocal commitment that anti-India activities will not be allowed on Nepali soil.
According to Nepal's foreign ministry spokesman Madan Kumar Bhattarai, Rao had broached the issue of signing a revised extradition treaty, which would allow the deportation of third country nationals.

The treaty was scheduled to be signed several years ago but was shelved due to pressure from the Maoists.
India and Nepal have also been discussing for several years a treaty on mutual legal assistance that will, among other things, allow the police of one country to sit during the interrogation of a criminal by the force of the neighbouring country. However, that too is yet to be formally signed.

During aviation talks at the secretary level in New Delhi last week, India also reiterated its request to allow air marshals on board select flights from Kathmandu to Indian metros.
Though the Indian government has been seeking such a measure in the wake of the hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft from Kathmandu to New Delhi, Nepal is yet to concede the safety measure.
India is also worried at the growing circulation of fake Indian currency from Nepal and Rao said she had mentioned the concern during her meeting with her Nepali counterpart, Gyan Chandra Acharya.
The home secretaries of the two nations will continue security talks in Kathmandu Nov 6-7, Rao said.
The nearly 1,800-km open border between the two countries also remains a grave security issue. Besides being infiltrated by terror operators, it was also creating acrimony between the two governments with accusations of encroachment.
Though Rao said 96 percent of the strip maps of the newly delineated border have been prepared, there were reports that while the Indian foreign secretary wanted Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal's government to sign the new strips, Nepal has blocked the effort.
The Nepal government is proposing that the new border be made official only after the hot spots are resolved, which is not likely in near future.

Rao avoids Hindi controversy in Nepal

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, whose two-day visit to Nepal witnessed two attempts by unidentified people to bomb the residence of Hindi-speaking Vice-President Paramananda Jha, Tuesday adroitly avoided fanning the controversy, choosing to answer all questions asked by journalists in English.
During her brief press conference, Rao was asked by a resident of Bihar whether she was struck by the changes in Nepal, a country she has been visiting since 1980 when she was a junior diplomat.
Though the question was asked in Hindi, Rao said she would answer in English so that her answer would be understood by everyone present.
In the past, her predecessor Shiv Shankar Menon had fielded questions asked to him in Hindi in the same language.
Rao's sidestepping comes as Nepal's first Vice President remains embroiled in a legal battle.
Jha's status remains uncertain after the Supreme Court said the oath of office and secrecy he had taken in Hindi last year was unconstitutional and ordered him to be sworn in again in Nepali or face being removed from his post.
Jha, a former Supreme Court judge who comes from Nepal's Hindi-speaking Terai belt, however refused and appealed against the verdict.
While the hearing is on, the government however has withdrawn his security cover and the national flag from his residence, signifying that he is no longer regarded as vice president.
On Monday, when Rao arrived in Kathmandu, a bomb was found near Jha's residence, making it the third attempt to bomb his residence since the dispute started.
On Tuesday too, a bomb was found in the same area and defused by the bomb disposal squad.
Answering the Hindi question in English, Rao said that during all her visits, she is struck by a "sense of closeness to the people and the environs".

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