WHAT: President Bush leaves today for a Thursday-Friday visit that includes stops in New Delhi and Hyderabad, followed by a stopover in Pakistan en route back home.
IN INDIA: Bush's schedule is mostly business, including meetings with top Indian officials, a U.S. Embassy drop-by and a Friday evening speech at a historic New Delhi fort. The headline issue could be ongoing efforts to complete a nuclear power agreement signed in July by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The plan is to clear the way for India to be allowed to get nuclear technology from the United States and other nations. Bush has built a solid working, if not close personal, relationship with Singh, an economist with an impressive academic resume.
WHAT INDIANS THINK: A 2005 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed that America's image is strong in India, where 71 percent of respondents held a favorable opinion of the United States. The poll showed that India was the only nation, other than the United States, in which a plurality (45 percent in India) agreed with Bush that removing Saddam Hussein made the world safer. But 75 percent of Indians favored not contributing military forces to Iraq.
IN PAKISTAN: The stop comes in the wake of protests and rioting sparked by Danish editorial cartoons that portrayed the Prophet Mohammed and angered Muslims around the world. "The reporting we have is that the demonstrations and the violence associated with the cartoons has subsided," said national security adviser Stephen Hadley. "I think it's very clear that he wants to go and that his Pakistani hosts want him to come. And therefore, we're going."
- COX NEWS SERVICE