Obama sets trip to India, pledges ties

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2010 (AFP) – US President Barack Obama set a visit to India in November as he pledged Thursday to push forward ties between the world’s two largest democracies as part of his busy diplomatic agenda. The United States also offered full support for India’s role in Afghanistan after high-level talks in Washington, despite Pakistan’s lingering suspicions about its historic rival’s influence in the war-torn country.

Relations between India and the United States have steadily warmed over the past decade, with the two countries overcoming decades of mutual distrust during the Cold War era.

But many Indian policymakers have remained anxious about Obama, who has set an early priority on broadening cooperation with Asia’s other rising power China and on supporting Pakistan in fighting Islamic extremism.

In a symbolic show of his commitment, Obama journeyed to the State Department for the first time since the days after his inauguration to address a reception for the “strategic dialogue” between the United States and India.

“The relationship between the United States and India is fundamentally unique,” Obama told a reception of senior officials and members of the increasingly influenti