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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 12:34 GMT
India-US deal to boycott court
Ambassador Blackwill (L) exchanges documents with Foreign Secretary Kanwar Sibal (R)
Mr Blackwill and Mr Sibal signed the agreement in Delhi
India and the United States have agreed not to extradite each other's nationals to the proposed International Criminal Court (ICC).

We are concerned about the International Criminal Court treaty with respect to the adequacy of checks and balances

Ambassador Blackwill

The agreement will ensure the "non-extradition of nationals of either country to any international tribunal without the other country's express consent."

Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwar Sibal and the US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, signed the agreement in Delhi on Thursday.

India is reported to be the 15th country to have signed a bilateral agreement with the US to bypass the ICC.

Strong opposition

Mr Blackwill said India and the United States "share the strongest possible commitment to bringing to justice those who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide".

President Clinton (L) reviews honour guard in Delhi in 2000
US-India relations warmed under President Clinton

But both countries "are concerned about the International Criminal Court treaty with respect to the adequacy of checks and balances, the impact of the treaty on national sovereignty and the potential for conflict with the UN Charter," he said.

The Bush administration strongly opposes the ICC, saying the tribunal could bring politically motivated charges against Americans.

The Rome treaty setting up the ICC was signed by the then President Bill Clinton, but he urged his successor not to ratify it until US concerns were resolved.

Warming relations

India has not signed the Rome treaty on the establishment of the ICC.

Correspondents say India's support for US efforts to weaken the ICC reinforces a new strategic alliance developing between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

Relations warmed under Mr Clinton whose extended visit to India in 2000 marked a significant turnaround.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Richard Forrest
"The United States has failed to back a number of international agreements"
See also:

14 Aug 02 | Americas
07 Jun 02 | South Asia
12 Sep 00 | South Asia
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