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On India trip, why Clinton won't stop in Pakistan

The secretary of State will play catch-up on US-India relations, after President Bush's landmark nuclear deal.

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There's a good reason why Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who begins a three-day visit to India Saturday, is not stopping off in Pakistan while in the neighborhood.

As important as Pakistan is to the foreign-policy priorities of the Obama administration, Secretary Clinton's trip to India will focus on showcasing the American partnership with an emerging economic and democratic 21st century power.

Clinton will no doubt discuss Pakistan and Afghanistan when she meets with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in New Delhi. But the breadth of the events she will attend and groups she will meet Saturday and Sunday in Mumbai – India's business capital – suggests a desire to demonstrate to Indians that the new US administration envisions a partnership that transcends regional conflicts and acknowledges India's role in addressing global issues.

"The President and Secretary Clinton both see India as a really important partner for us, not only in addressing bilateral issues, but also in … working with us to shape the world of the 21st century," says Robert Blake, assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs.

On Monday, Clinton and India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will announce deeper cooperation in everything from military exercises to women's issues, Mr. Blake says, adding that the US aims for "broader engagement … on some of the big global challenges" such as climate change and nuclear nonproliferation.

The administration may be aiming high, but it also has some catching up to do when it comes to India, some specialists in the region say.

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