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Antony not part of Manmohan-Cameron meet, govt sources say his presence not required

Feb 19, 2013 at 12:37pm IST

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New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony was not part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's delegation holding talks with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday. Government sources say his presence was not required and his absence was not linked to the AgustaWestland chopper controversy.

David Cameron met Manmohan Singh in Delhi on Tuesday. Cameron, who is on a three-day trip to India, was in Mumbai on Monday. Defence deals, education ties and further ways to counter-terrorism are high on the agenda for the meeting between the two prime ministers. AgustaWestland chopper deal is also likely to figure in the meeting.

India has met and written to British officials on investigation while the UK has only provided India an interim reply. India wants a full reply on queries on AgustaWestland, which is a UK subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

Antony not part of Manmohan-Cameron meet

Government sources say AK Antony's presence was not required and his absence was not linked to the AgustaWestland chopper controversy.

On Monday, David Cameron virtually washed his hands off the chopper deal saying it is a matter between India and Italy and that he had no doubts over the dealings of AgustaWestland in Britain. Speaking to BBC, Cameron asserted that Britain has some of the toughest anti-bribery laws, adding, "people know if they do business with British companies, they have those protections."

He termed AgustaWestland as an excellent company with highly skilled workers "who make brilliant helicopters".

When asked if Britain would carry out a probe into the issue, the Prime Minister told BBC, "UK's Serious Fraud Office itself will decide whether to look into the claims of bribery in AgustaWestland chopper deal...We have totally independent investigating and prosecuting authorities in the UK, and they are at liberty to act or not."

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