Clinton seeks goodwill in India

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Hillary Clinton arriving in Mumbai
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a five-day visit to India aimed at strengthening political and economic relations.
She is currently in Mumbai, where she attended a private ceremony to honour the victims of last November's attacks which left more than 170 people dead.
She is staying in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where many of the victims died.
Mrs Clinton is also likely to press for better ties between India and Pakistan when she goes to Delhi on Sunday.
Observers say she will argue that the current US alliance with Pakistan is not at India's expense.
BBC regional analyst Jill McGivering says that at present, the US focus is on Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the battle against Taliban insurgents in both countries.
But the Obama administration is keen to address concerns in India that Delhi's interests are being neglected, our correspondent adds.
Drumming up business
BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas, who is travelling with Mrs Clinton, says the secretary of state is keen on people-to-people diplomacy and usually holds town hall events and meetings with civil society leaders on foreign visits.
Before the official part of the visit in Delhi on Monday, she will take time in Mumbai, the commercial capital, to meet business leaders and visit a women's NGO that helps to provide poor women with employment.
In the afternoon she will spend an hour at a school talking to volunteers at the Teach India programme, promoting education for the poor.
As her first engagement, she attended a morning ceremony to mark the Mumbai attacks, held in private and without press coverage.
It was held in the Taj Palace hotel where she was staying.
The attacks, in November last year, have become a major source of tension between India and Pakistan.
India wants Pakistan to punish those responsible and take tough action against militant groups.
The US has been working to bring the sides back into dialogue.
If tensions along Pakistan's border with India were reduced, the Pakistani military would be able to focus more fully on the north-west and dealing with its own insurgency there.
Pakistan is now promising to address the concerns about militants, but many in India are sceptical.
Our correspondent also says the visit is also partly about business.
The agreement which ended a three-decade ban on the sale of civilian nuclear technology to India was a centrepiece of the last Bush administration.
Now India is expected to name two sites where US companies can build nuclear power plants. It is business worth billions of dollars.

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