In India, Clinton Attends Memorial to Honor Those Slain in Mumbai Attacks

On a week-long foreign trip in South Asia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in a Saturday memorial service in Mumbai to honor the 170 lives lost in last November's attacks in the bustling Indian metropolis.


Clinton did not mince words on the subject of terrorism on her way to India, her trip to the region coinciding with the coordinated bomb blasts that rocked two Jakarta luxury hotels Friday morning.

Clinton condemned the "senseless acts of violence and stand ready to provide assistance if the Indonesian government requests us to do so" in a statement issued from Prague during a refueling stop on her way to India.

The Mumbai attacks remain a very sensitive issue in India. Last year's siege on the Taj Mahal hotel and other sites in the city left more than 170 dead and hundreds more wounded. Earlier this week the Indian government said peace talks with archrival Pakistan would be put on hold until Islamabad helps bring those behind last year's attacks to justice.

Still, evidenced by the destruction of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta, hotels remain soft targets.

The "Heritage" wing of the Taj hotel, frequented by dignitaries and Clinton herself on this trip, was damaged during the attacks and is still being rebuilt. Clinton's floor in the Taj's "Tower" wing had been cordoned off in anticipation of her arrival. Indian media reports that the Taj stepped up security ahead of Clinton's stay. Guests were subjected to background checks, and a heavy security presence in and around the hotel.

Clinton's trip to India and Thailand follows a major policy speech she gave Wednesday in Washington where she outlined the nation's foreign policy agenda, charging among her goals "to isolate and defeat terrorists and counter violent extremists while reaching out to Muslims around the world."

Her speech also included strong words about the Iranian government, outlining her strategy for the future.

"The choice is clear," Clinton said Wednesday. "We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."

Forceful words from a woman who, by some accounts, needs to force her way back on to the national stage.


On her first overseas trip as secretary of state in February, people were left swooning, seeing Clinton more as pop idol than policy wonk as she traveled Asia drawing crowds, appearing on game shows and making headlines.

It was a stunning start, but since then Clinton's profile has gradually diminished.

"Hillary has been sort of kept in a box and I think we're beginning to see a certain amount of frustration even though she is trying extremely hard to make sure that there's no daylight between her and the president," says Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast.

But there is that shattered elbow.

Just days after surgery last month, Clinton showed up at the White House and it was not hard to see the toll it had taken -- with her thick glasses and lack of make-up, the photographs screamed "pain," which could account for her lack of foreign trips since.

Clinton was forced to cancel plans to join President Obama in Russia last week and appears conspicuously absent from photos taken with the international power brokers in attendance during his diplomatic forays to Russia, the Middle East and Africa.

But Clinton pushed back against the notion that she's been sidelined by the administration in Thursday remarks at the State Department.

"I broke my elbow, not my larynx," Clinton quipped Thursday at the State Department. "I have been consistently involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy, and I am off to India and Thailand."

With her elbow on the mend, she appears to be making up for lost time. Planned for later this year are trips to Russia and Pakistan.