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US tight-lipped about Wikileaks shocker on cash-for-vote

By Lalit K Jha
March 18, 2011 11:13 IST
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The United States on Friday declined to comment on a WikiLeaks cable that sparked allegations that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government purchased the support of Members of Parliament to survive the trust vote over the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008.

"I am not going to say if it (the cable) is classified or not, but certainly if it is classified, we wouldn't speak about it, and we are not going to speak about it in way, shape or form," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.

He was responding to a question on the uproar in India over the WikiLeaks cable that claimed an aide of former Union minister Satish Sharma had shown to the diplomat currency chests that were part of a Rs 60 crore booty collected by the Congress for 'purchasing' MPs for the vote in the Lok Sabha.

"Does the US condone such open corruption in other governments," a reporter asked Toner.

The spokesman replied, "To your broader question about corruption in government, of course the US is always for greater transparency in governments throughout the world because transparency in governments leads to better political systems that are able to, you know, help the people that they represent."

"More broadly, we deal with corruption issues in many countries throughout the world. That's an important part of our assistance efforts to many countries in the world. But specifically what pertains to India, I really can't speak about that," he added.

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Lalit K Jha In Washington
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