New Delhi: India
Tuesday voiced its "very serious concerns" over the bribery
allegations in the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal during talks
between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh here as Britain assured it would act on any request
Both countries also agreed to launch negotiations on a civil
nuclear agreement and cooperate in energy security and boost trade
as Cameron and Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks on a wide
gamut of regional and global issues, including Afghanistan.
Cameron, who is here on a three-day visit at the head of the
biggest-ever 100-member delegation, and Manmohan Singh held talks
in the morning after which the two released a joint statement
outlining their areas of cooperation, including a MoU on health.
Cameron said his country would respond to any request for
information on the AgustaWestland issue. He said the Italian
authorities were looking into the issue in detail as Finmeccanica,
the parent company of AgustaWestland, is Rome-based.
He asserted that Britain has tough anti-bribery laws and any one
found guilty of corruption would be punished.
Manmohan Singhy conveyed India's "very serious concerns regarding
allegations about unethical means" used in securing the $750
million contract for AgustaWestland helicopters.
"I told him that we have sought an explanation from the company by
Feb 22 to examine if the contractual provisions on unethical
practices and the Integrity Pact have been violated. I have sought
full assistance from the UK in this case. Prime Minister Cameron
has assured me of the cooperation of his government in the
investigations," the prime minister said.
Manmohan Singh thanked Cameron for Britain's support for India's
full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other
multilateral export control regimes. "We have also decided to
commence negotiations on a bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement," he
Cameron also "committed the UK to make available to India cutting
edge British technology, civil and military, that the Britain
currently shares with its top international partners, in
accordance with international obligations".
Both agreed to work together to achieve India's ambitions to join
the major export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile
Technology Control Group; Australia Group; Wassenaar Arrangement).
The India-EU Free Trade Agreement also figured in talks, with both
sides underlining their strong commitment to its successful
Cameron emphasized that their bilateral relations has "all the
potential of growth" in the decades ahead.
"It is a strong partnership that we want to build together.. we
are on track to double our trade to 23 billion pounds by 2015," he
said, and added that Britain is looking to open British trade
offices all over India. "We want to open a pan India network of
British trade offices by 2017."
Cameron also said he was "excited to examine" business prospects
around the Bangalore-Mumbai industrial corridor. On Monday, he had
made a pitch to help build the 1,000-km Mumbai-Bangalore
industrial corridor generating investment projects worth up to $25
He also elaborated on the steps Britain is taking to boost trade,
including reducing barriers to investment. Britain is bringing in
same-day visa service and re-writing rules of sharing technology.
Both sides have a new collaboration on cyber security and agreed
to cooperate in energy security.
They also agreed to further intensify cooperation in fighting
Cameron said they had emphasized on the need for a "stable and
secure Pakistan, which is at peace with itself and its neighbours
and has eradicated the threat that terrorism poses.. and that must
include to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11
attacks.. and we will work together to that end".
Afghanistan also figured in the talks, with Britain saying that
"it will not abandon Afghanistan" and will continue to support
Kabul even after the troops have left in 2014.
Britain will work to bring long term economic security and
development to Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a haven for
terrorists, he said.
They also discussed Sri Lanka and the need for "free and fair
elections" in Maldives, where the former president Mohamed Nasheed
has been staying in the Indian High Commission in Male since Feb
Iran, Myanmar and Syria also figured in the talks.