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Obama Says U.S., India United Against Terrorism


A billboard welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama at The American Center in New Delhi
U.S. President Barack Obama has said India and Washington stand united to guard the "torch of freedom" as he visits Mumbai on the first stop of a 10-day Asian tour.

He will also visit Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan.

Obama arrived on November 6 in the country's commercial capital of Mumbai, where he stopped over at the luxury Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel -- one of the primary targets of a citywide attack by Islamist militants two years ago that killed more than 160 people.

He said the decision to start his Asian tour in Mumbai was symbolic.

"Ever since those horrific days two years ago, the Taj has been the symbol of the strength and the resilience of the Indian people. So yes, we visit here to send a very clear message -- that in our determination to give our people a future of security and prosperity, the United States and India stand united," Obama said.

Obama went on to compare the devastating Mumbai assault to the September 11 attacks on the United States nine years ago, adding that counterintelligence cooperation between Washington and Delhi was at its highest level ever.

"Just as Indian citizens lost their lives on 9/11, American citizens lost their lives here on 26/11, along with the citizens of many nations. And as our people prayed together at candle light vigils, our governments have worked closer than ever, sharing intelligence, preventing attacks and demanding the perpetrators are brought to justice," Obama said.

Obama also announced a host of new trade deals with India. The deals with India to buy U.S. export products, including commercial airliners, are expected to be worth some $10 billion. He announced them at a meeting of Indian and U.S. business leaders, saying that "the United States sees Asia, especially India, as the market of the future."

Disagreements Remain

"It is hard to overstate the importance of Asia to our economic future," Obama wrote in an opinion piece published on November 5 in "The New York Times."

Indian officials have said Obama's visit underscored the close ties that have developed between the two nations in recent years after decades of wary relations.

"I don't think there's an area of human endeavor in which we do not actually cooperate," said Shivshankar Menon, India's national security adviser, ahead of Obama's arrival, citing growing U.S.-Indian cooperation in politics, trade, technology, counterterrorism, and defense.

But serious disagreements remain and appear unlikely to be resolved during the U.S. president's visit.

India, in particular, has voiced concern about Washington's military and financial support to Pakistan -- India's longstanding foe but a strategic country for the United States and its allies in the war in Afghanistan.

Indians are also wary of the growing U.S. resistance to the outsourcing of jobs to India.

Obama travels to New Delhi on November 7, where he is due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and deliver an address to parliament.

with agency reports
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