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Manmohan ready to discuss 'Q' issue

The PM reiterates that his Govt has done no wrong in handling the demand for extradition of Quattrocchi.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2007 08:57 AM IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said his government was ready for any discussion in Parliament and reiterated it had done "no wrong" in handling the extradition demand against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who has been linked to the Bofors payoff scandal.

Manmohan Singh, who came under harsh criticism from the opposition over his government's seeming failure to extradite Quattrocchi from Argentina, said: "It has been our consistent stand that we do not shy away from any discussion... We are ready for any discussion as decided by the floor managers and speaker."

Responding to opposition leader LK Advani's allegation that it was improper for the prime minister to talk to the media about Quattrocchi instead of inside the house, Manmohan Singh said: "It was not my intention to hurt the sentiments of the opposition or any member. It was not a press conference. I was asked to comment on election results and somebody asked me about the Quattrocchi issue."

Manmohan Singh had told the media that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been given the fullest freedom to take all steps to extradite the Italian businessman, who was detained in Argentina on February 6.

"As far as the facts of the matter are concerned, my colleague (Minister of state for Personnel and Grievances) Suresh Pachouri has laid statements in both the houses."

"I repeat that that this government has done nothing wrong. We will allow the CBI full freedom to pursue the case."

The opposition stalled Parliament's functioning since Monday, accusing the government of acting tardily in extraditing Quattrocchi. The Bharatiya Janata Party disrupted the proceedings on Thursday morning too, leading two abrupt adjournments, saying the prime minister was protecting the culprits and was not ready to inform the house about the government's moves.

Pachauri made a statement in Parliament on Tuesday seeking to dispel doubts that Quattrocchi's bail from an Argentine court would have a bearing on proceedings to extradite him.

Quattrocchi has been released on bail but not allowed to leave Argentina.

A two-member CBI team has left for Buenos Aires and is expected to arrive there Friday to present their case before the authorities.

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