Chopper deal not on agenda of talks with British PM

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 18, 2013 12:50 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) India Monday said the alleged corruption in the VVIP chopper deal was not on the agenda of talks with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I have no idea. I have not looked at the agenda. I know what the agenda was a week ago but I don't know if there is a revised agenda," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

"I would think one prepared the agenda much in advance. You cannot take any visiting dignitary by surprise. There are many levels at which these investigations are taking place. It is only in due course that it reaches the highest level. I am not sure of the agenda," he said.

Cameron arrived in India Monday on a three-day visit.

On the investigations into the alleged scam, Khurshid said: "Even now we are not being able to get concrete material from the Italians on where matter has proceeded and arrests have been made."

"They (Italian government) haven't indicated anything and according to their rules, they cannot share anything with us. It is a little premature to jump to conclusions on what we can get and from where," he added.

"We have sent teams to Italy. They will return with information which we can analyze and comment," he said.

The CBI is probing allegations of kickbacks in the $750 million (Rs.3,600 crore) deal for 12 AgustaWestland AW101 choppers from Italy for the Indian Air Force's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the president, prime minister and other VVIPs.

The defence ministry Friday initiated action for cancellation of the contract. It also issued a formal show cause notice to AgustaWestland, a Britain-based subsidiary of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

AugustaWestland has been given a week to explain why the contract should not be cancelled.

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