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Khurshid denies differences in UPA on scrapping Italian chopper deal


Paarull,CNN-IBN
Feb 19, 2013 at 11:57am IST

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has denied any differences within the government on the question of scrapping the AgustaWestland deal. "I have not expressed any reservation at all. I only said whatever decision taken has to be a collective decision," Khurshid said.

"I don't think we should take any decision based on media reports. We should not be pressured by anything. We have nothing to hide. It is outrightly objective procedure that has been followed. Keeping all that in mind, the Defence Ministry will recommend what it thinks is the appropriate decision," Khurshid added.

ALSO SEE CBI team leaves for Italy to probe AgustaWestland chopper deal

Meanwhile, the BJP hit out at the Congress saying leaders within the party were contradicting each other. "Till yesterday, we heard the Defence Minister saying we will scrap the deal, he accepts that kickback was taken. Now External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid saying that it has to be discussed in CCS. There is clear contradiction. Congress would have to answer a lot of questions in Parliament," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Earlier, sources had indicated that the Prime Minister's Office was unhappy with the proposal to cancel the chopper deal. This came amidst reports that the Defence Minister was inclined to cancel the deal in view of the bribery allegations against former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi.

Khurshid had then said that the showcause notice is just the first step, but indicated the government may not go all the way. "Whether we are planning to cancel or not, I don't know. There is a provision for cancelling, I think the government is entitled to give a showcause notice, they have given a showcause notice. But any further steps that are taken should be taken, keeping in mind, both our entitlement as far as the contracts are concerned and the implications for ourselves," Khurshid had said.

Meanwhile, a Central Bureau of Investigation team has left for Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal. The team is expected to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain details of the case.

Sources have told CNN-IBN that having exhausted diplomatic options, India is hiring a lawyer in Milan to explore the legal route to extract information from Italy as recommended by the embassy in Rome.

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