United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Mumbai victims Saturday calling for a global fight against terror as she aimed to finalize a defense agreement essential to allowing U.S. companies to sell sophisticated arms to India.
On her first trip to India as Washington's top diplomat, Clinton linked the attacks which left 166 people dead to those in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 and Friday's deadly hotel bombings in Jakarta.
"These events are seared in our collective memory," she told a news conference at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, where she is staying and where 31 guests and staff lost their lives during the Islamist militant siege.
"The United States will work with the Indian government, the Indonesian government and other nations and peoples to seek peace and security and confront and defeat these violent extremists."
Clinton denied that President Barack Obama's administration was pressuring India into seeking peace with Pakistan so the latter could focus entirely on beating an Islamist insurgency on its border with Afghanistan, a U.S. priority.
"The U.S...is very supportive of steps that the governments take but we are not in any way involved in or promoting any particular position," she told the news conference.
Counter-terrorism is one of a number of issues on Clinton's agenda, alongside tackling nuclear proliferation and climate change plus opening up trade and new markets.
Nukes and arms
Besides calling on all peace loving nations to work together to rid the world of "extremism that produces such nihilistic violence," Clinton was also in India to finalize a $10 billion defense agreement that would facilitate the largest arms deals in the world between the U.S. and India.
"We are working very hard to finalize a number of agreements. I am optimistic that we will get such agreements resolved and announced," Clinton told reporters in Mumbai in response to a question about an arms "end-user monitoring" pact.
Under U.S. law, such a pact is necessary for U.S. firms to bid on India's plan to buy 126 multi-role fighters, which would be one of the largest arms deals in the world and could be a boon to Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.
Lockheed and Boeing are competing with Russia's MiG-35, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Saab KAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish firms, for the contract.
The deal is part of India's $30 billion plan to modernize its military over the next five years, Clinton aims to finalize another agreement on a civilian nuclear pact signed last year, that would allow U.S. firms to set up two sites on Indian soil with the exclusive right to build nuclear power plants.
The two major U.S. nuclear reactor builders are General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp.