|Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal||
An attempt by Cameron to recast Anglo-Indian relations as a "special partnership" was in danger of being overshadowed by the carefully worded intervention from Manmohan Singh.
Singh said at a joint press conference in New Delhi that he had sought British assistance in the investigation into allegations that corrupt payments were made during negotiations to purchase 12 AgustaWestland luxury AW101 helicopters, manufactured in Yeovil.
Giuseppe Orsi, the chairman and chief executive of AgustaWestland's parent company, Finmeccanica, has been arrested by Italian police as part of an investigation into allegations that bribes were paid to Indian government officials. Orsi, who denies the allegations, resigned on Friday.
Singh said: "I conveyed to the prime minister our very serious concerns regarding allegations of unethical means used to secure the 2010 contract for AgustaWestland helicopters. I told him that we have sought an explanation from the company by February 22 to examine if the contractual conditions on unethical practices and the integrity pact have been violated.
"I have sought full assistance from the UK in this case. Prime Minister David Cameron has assured me of cooperation of his government in the investigations."
Cameron said Britain would cooperate, though he pointed out that Finmeccanica was an Italian company. "We will respond to any request for information," he said. "I am glad that the Italian authorities are looking into this issue in detail as Finmeccanica is an Italian company, the parent company of AgustaWestland.
"Let me make absolutely clear that in Britain we have introduced anti-bribery legislation that is probably the strongest anywhere in the world. We will root out any problems of bribery or corruption wherever they appear and whenever they appear."
Singh also showed Indian concerns over Britain's tough visa system, which has been heavily criticized by British and Indian business leaders for acting as a barrier to links between the countries.
The Indian prime minister said: "Education and science are special areas of India-UK cooperation. I have impressed upon the prime minister the need for a visa regime that facilitates greater movement of people between our two countries so this cooperation can be further recharged."
Cameron said Britain had taken steps to relax visa rules, and that Britain and India should reduce barriers to trade. Britain believed the greatest barrier imposed by India was restrictions on service industries, in which Britain was strong.
The prime minister said: "We discussed today about how we should both be looking at how we reduce the barriers to investment in our countries. Specifically, the British have said we are going to bring in a same-day visa service for Indian business. We made absolutely clear there is no limit on the number of Indian students that can study in British universities, so long as they have a place and an English-language qualification."
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