David Cameron meets PM; Antony not part of talks
New Delhi: British Prime Minister David Cameron met his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.
Cameron will hold discussions with Prime Minister Singh on bilateral and global issues of common interest. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee on the same day. The British Prime Minister last visited India in July 2010.
During his meeting with Manmohan Singh, Cameron may also raise the AgustaWestland deal and is likely to "make the case" for the helicopter manufacturing company. AgustaWestland employs nearly 5,000 people in the UK, and there are obvious concerns over chopper deal cancellation.
Importantly, Defence Minister A K Antony is reportedly not part of Singh's delegation that will hold talks with Cameron during which defence deals are expected to come up for discussion.
The Defence Minister is not part of the delegation, ministry sources said. However, no reasons were given for Antony not being part of the delegation.
The Indian government has already put on hold the deal and launched the process to cancel it amid allegations that kickbacks of 51 million euro (approx USD 68 mn) were paid to clinch the deal.
It has also issued a show cause notice to AgustaWestland as to why the contract should not be scrapped in view of the corruption allegations. The notice is seen as a precursor to scrapping the deal as the defence ministry holds that bribery would be violative of the integrity pact that all defence suppliers are subject to and violations of which are liable to be punished by cancellation, fines and blacklisting of firms.
AgustaWestland has said it was preparing to clarify the points raised by the Indian government.
The helicopters were for the IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, the Prime Minister and other VVIPs.