Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told new U.S. President Barack Obama in a letter of congratulations that he hopes ties between the two countries will “strengthen further”, a statement said on Thursday. New Delhi and Washington signed a civilian nuclear deal in 2008 under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, reversing decades of U.S. non-proliferation policies, and bilateral ties are at their closest for years.

India is trying to mount a diplomatic offensive against nuclear-armed rival Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks that killed 179 people in November. New Delhi wants Islamabad to crack down on the Pakistan-based militants who India and the United States say were behind the attacks. India accuses some Pakistan state agencies of involvement, a charge its neighbour strongly denies.

“The letter focuses on the multi faceted relationship that is anchored in the common values of democracy, pluralism and respect for diversity, shared by the two countries,” the government statement said. “He expressed the hope that the bilateral relations between India and the USA would strengthen further.” Analysts say Obama and his Western allies may, rather than join India in pushing Pakistan to arrest those behind the attacks, side with those urging India to find a solution to the problem of Kashmir, claimed in full but ruled in part by both India and Pakistan, as a way to bring security to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A growing number of think tanks and strategic experts, some linked to the Obama administration, have said they believe finding a solution to Kashmir would rid the region of one of its main sources of Islamist militant recruitment. Obama suggested during his election campaign that a special envoy was needed for Kashmir, but India sees the region, the focus of two wars with Pakistan, as a bilateral issue and dismisses any outside attempt to influence developments.

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