Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India has welcomed the signing of a "comprehensive national peace agreement" between the Nepal Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on Tuesday and hoped it would end the politics and culture of violence in the Himalayan nation.

"The critical test of this agreement will be its implementation on the ground. We call upon all sides and stakeholders in Nepal to strictly abide by their commitments under the agreement," an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said in a statement.

"Violations must be dealt with under the laws of the land, and full cooperation extended to those empowered to supervise the steps ahead, such as the police, the Election Commission, and the U.N. [United Nations]. The people's mandate, and their trust, must not be betrayed," he stressed.

The spokesman hoped that the agreement would herald the beginning of a lasting peace to let the Nepal people exercise their right to decide their destiny through free and fair elections, without intimidation.

"India stands ready to continue to help in every way, to ensure that this historic opportunity is not lost," he said.