British PM offers to cooperate with India on graft probe



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Wednesday 20 February 2013

Last update 19 February 2013 9:45 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

NEW DELHI: British Prime Minister David Cameron promised full cooperation yesterday with an Indian investigation into alleged corruption in a helicopter deal, an issue which has clouded his trip to New Delhi.
Cameron arrived in India on Monday with what he called the biggest-ever British overseas business delegation, pushing for better access to the booming market of 1.2 billion people and greater trade.
While keen to persuade India of the merits of the part-British Eurofighter jets, he has been dogged by another aviation deal involving the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland.
Italian authorities arrested the boss of AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica last week during an investigation into bribes allegedly paid to secure the $750-million Indian government contract in 2010.
Press reports indicate one of the accused middlemen is based in London, while the helicopters are being made in southwest England.
“We will respond to any request for information. I am glad that the Italian authorities are looking into this issue in detail,” Cameron told a press conference with Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
Singh, eager to show his graft-plagued government taking action ahead of national elections next year, said he had conveyed “our very serious concerns regarding allegations that unethical means were used” to secure the deal.
“I have sought the full assistance of the UK in this case,” he added.
The scandal has been an unwanted distraction for Cameron who is eager to forge a new partnership with Britain’s former colony, believing their historical links should provide a foundation for a closer partnership.
Like other Western leaders who arrive eyeing the country’s enviable economic growth rates, he is keen for British companies to benefit from India’s vast investment in infrastructure, health, energy and defense.
Executives in his delegation from the worlds of banking, insurance and retail have also been encouraged by the Indian government’s moves late last year to drop some barriers to foreign investors.
Cameron has targeted a doubling of annual bilateral trade with India, from 11.5 billion pounds ($17.8 billion) in 2010 to 23 billion pounds by the time he faces re-election in 2015.
“Britain wants to be your partner of choice,” Cameron said during a factory visit in commercial capital Mumbai on Monday.
Harsh Pant, a expert on Indian foreign relations at King’s College university in London, said that Britain and India were bound by their history and large British-Indian population, but that New Delhi was destined to remain aloof.
“India has never been about close relationships with any country,” he said, referring to its embrace of the non-aligned movement. “They will never be the sort of partners that some countries expect them to be or want them to be.” In moves designed to appeal to his hosts, Cameron has announced a new same-day visa service for Indian business people and stressed that British universities remain welcoming places for Indian students.
He has played cricket to highlight the countries’ common love of the game and joked and spoke with 400 students and Bollywood mega-star Aamir Khan on Tuesday at a New Delhi girls’ college.
Singh thanked Cameron for his “strong personal commitment to India” — this is his second visit since becoming prime minister in 2010 — and said he had invited increased British investments in India.

“We expressed satisfaction with progress in our economic engagement, while stressing the need to do more to take the relationship to a new level,” he added.
In 2010, Cameron had given heavy backing during talks with Indian leaders to the part-British Eurofighter consortium, which was competing for a $12 billion contract to sell 126 fighter jets to the air force.
Last January, India chose France’s Dassault Aviation for exclusive negotiations but the deal has still not been signed.
The first allegations of wrongdoing in the AgustaWestland deal emerged last year, but India’s government has said it was unable to gain information from Italian or British governments about the investigation.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Huge projects change the faces of cities and great ambitions help create such projects. Madinah had its date with a quantum leap to usher in a new era of urban development. Such huge projects help achieve formidable civilization advancements and sign...
RIYADH: The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, Noriheiro Okoda, has held a meeting with Hashem Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), and discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of atom...
AL-BAHA: Forty three percent of Al-Baha cannot be developed easily because of the region’s mountainous terrain.This is the view of Khaled Al-Sayegh, undersecretary for construction at the municipality, who was speaking at an event held at the College...
JEDDAH: An official at the Council of Saudi Chambers said the council’s members are discussing a regulation to submit to the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to deny a number of privileges to companies that force its labor to work unde...
ABHA: With many families wanting new furniture during Ramadan, furniture and interior decorating shops are raising prices to more than double what they were before the month.Homeowner Zaina Mohammed says she used to change her home furniture every Ra...
RIYADH: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman described the first visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Madinah as “historic.”In his comments following the visit which saw th...
MADINAH: Economists expected the volume of investments in Madinah’s economies during the coming few years to reach SR500 billion.The forecasted growth in the population, to reach 2.6 million people after 25 years, and the number of visitors to 12.2 m...
JEDDAH: It seems that many Saudi families are gradually coming to terms with the new reality of living in apartments, as building villas is not possible due to shortage of appropriate land.With the increasing display of housing units by the Ministry...
RIYADH: Migrant rights advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) has lambasted their country’s leadership over the claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are declining due to sustained economic growth in the Philippines.The group has cal...
RIYADH: A charitable foundation called “Smile” will be launched on Sunday night at the Al-Hokair Land in the Saudi capital to make people happy. “The foundation will be launched to make Saudi Arabia a center of smiles,” well-known television host and...
MAKKAH: The Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims to around 6 million from 1.5 million in the last 16 years. Moreover, the number of pilgrims overstaying their visas has come down to about 1 percent. The Ministry of Haj has be...
RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) said here recently that it has financed small enterprises (SMEs) run by 130 widows in some of the Kingdom’s provinces.KKF hosted an iftar party last week for local media at its headquarters in Riyadh at which...
JEDDAH: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of the Northern Borders province, has died.He will be buried after Taraweeh prayers in Jeddah on Saturday, the Royal Court said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. No other det...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has suspended all parallel education programs, except in medical and engineering specialties, as well as bridging programs for health diploma certificates.Education Minister Azzam Al-Dhakil gave directions to the rec...
RIYADH: The Cooperative Health Insurance Council said it had suspended operations of six medical insurance companies for violating health insurance regulations by issuing insurance policies without completing the required documentation and violating...

Stay Connected

Facebook