Clinton begins Asia trip on somber note

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute to victims of last year's Mumbai attacks during her trip to India.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first day in India began on a solemn note as she signed a condolence book at a Mumbai luxury hotel ravaged last year by terrorists.

Clinton also expressed sorrow over Friday’s bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia, saying they serve as reminders that the threat of terrorism and extremism is real. The United States, she added, will work with partners to confront such attacks. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is Clinton’s first stop on a weeklong visit to that country and Thailand, where she will attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At The Taj Mahal Palace, one of several terrorist targets in Mumbai on November 26, Clinton paid tribute to the victims and met six hotel employees who helped with rescue efforts that day. She spent five minutes expressing her sentiments in a memorial book and reading comments left by others. “Americans share a solidarity with this city and nation,” she wrote. “Both our people have experienced the senseless and searing effects of violent extremism. Now it is up to all nations and people who seek peace and progress to work together. “Let us rid the world of hatred and extremism that produces such nihilistic violence. Our future deserves no less,” she wrote.

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The Mumbai attacks left 166 people dead as well as nine of the gunmen. Many of the deaths occurred at the Taj and the Oberoi-Trident hotels, which reopened three weeks later. In Jakarta, eight people, including two suicide bombers, died in twin hotel bomb blasts Friday. More than 50 others were wounded. Clinton’s goal in India is to “broaden and strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States and India” on issues such as climate change and nonproliferation, according to a State Department briefing held before she left. Pakistan is also expected to be on the agenda, given the tense relationship between that country and India, both nuclear powers. Clinton plans to spend two days in Mumbai and one in India’s capital city of New Delhi before heading to Bangkok to meet with Thailand’s prime minister. From there, she travels to Phuket for the ASEAN meetings. Her trip ends on July 23.