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Updated: February 17, 2013 12:37 IST

Chopper deal: India to seek more info during Cameron visit

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British Prime Minister David Cameron with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his earlier visit to India in 2010. Mr.Cameron will hold comprehensive talks with Mr. Singh on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu British Prime Minister David Cameron with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his earlier visit to India in 2010. Mr.Cameron will hold comprehensive talks with Mr. Singh on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Arriving here within days of exposure of the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP helicopters scam involving Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to be pressed for more information in this regard during his meetings with the leadership on Tuesday.

The visit also comes in the wake of India taking steps to scrap the contract after Italian investigators probed allegations that aerospace group Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, had broken the law by paying bribes to foreign officials.

The helicopters, three of which have already been delivered, are manufactured in southwest England.

India has already issued a note verbale and met with UK Foreign Office officials to get information and assistance in probing the allegations of corruption in the deal, an official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Noting that the UK has provided an interim response, the spokesperson also said, “Nobody is ever satisfied with an interim response. Everybody would want a full-fledged response. So, I mean it is pretty obvious that we would like a full-fledged response.”

Yesterday, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had said in Dhaka that the issues pertaining to the chopper deal could come up during discussion with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Westland used to be a UK firm and was taken over by Italian defence giant Finmeccanica.

Mr. Cameron, accompanied by a large official business delegation, will hold comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues.

Apart from the defence deal, other major issues expected to figure during Mr. Cameron’s three-day visit would include the Rs 12,000-crore Vodafone tax dues matter and the UK hosting a meeting between the Pakistan and Afghanistan Presidents.

While the Vodafone issue also figured during the recent visit of Finance Minister P Chidambaram to the UK, details of the UK-Pak-Afghan trilateral meet was being “finely studied” by New Delhi.

According to reports from the UK, Mr. Cameron also wants to use the trip to correct any misunderstandings about his government’s move to bring immigration numbers under control amid concerns that young Indians could be deterred from applying to study in Britain

Mr. Cameron’s trip also comes close on the heels of a visit by French President Francois Hollande here to drum up trade, underlining the growing importance of the Indian economy.

Ahead of the visit, the UK Prime Minister said he wanted the relationship between Britain and India to be “one of the great partnerships of the 21st century“.

Before landing here on February 19, Mr. Cameron along with his delegation would be spending a night in Mumbai where he will attend a business meet and place a wreath on police memorial.

Mr. Cameron’s India visit is being billed in the UK as the biggest trade trip ever organised by his office.

India and the UK have vibrant economic ties and the two- way trade rose to about USD 16.157 billion in 2011-12 from USD 12.56 billion in 2010-11.

Total British FDI in India, as of October 2012 from April 2000, was about USD 17.08 billion, which is about 9 per cent of the total foreign direct investment in India. There are about 700 Indian companies which have operations in the UK out of which over 70 are listed on London Stock Exchange.

With reference to the first comment, before UPA government asks UK to book
AgustaWestLand under UK's AntiBriberyAct-2005,shouldn't it question at least the
three cousin brothers named by the Italian middleman and set in motion action to
enact the AntiBribery Act in India to check the menace of corruption being indulged
by Corporates ?

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Feb 17, 2013 at 17:14 IST

Correction to previous comment: UK is part of european union(EU),any EU national has
'right to free movement within 27 EU member states including UK',hence UK govt can NOT
stop migration from EU states,the only thing they could do is to stop migration from rest of
the WORLD

from:  tarsem
Posted on: Feb 17, 2013 at 15:36 IST

Indians do not needs to immigrate to a third world countries,if the govts stop engaging in
multi-million dollar scams & start doing something for youth developement & employment
generation, such as making mandatory as part of policy measure for companies to setup
their manufacturing,R&D operations within India if those companies want access to Indian
markets.UK immigration policy: Since 2006 UK has strong anti-immigration sentiment,It was
big issue during last election Mr Cameron party's election menofesto was to bring
immigration number down,UK is part of european union(EU),any EU national has 'right to
free movement,within 27 EU member states including UK',hence UK govt could stop
migration from EU,the only thing they could do is to stop migration from rest of the would,so
they brought thoughtest immigration measures to reduce migration from outside the
EU,From 2014 Bulgaria& Romania gaining free move right.For ChopperScam ask UK to
book AgustaWestLand under UK's AntiBriberyAct-2005

from:  Tarsem
Posted on: Feb 17, 2013 at 13:50 IST
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