Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves later this week for India and Pakistan, a trip intended to shore up relations between rival countries at a time when tensions are running high in South Asia because of the war in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials say this trip is timed in part to make sure the war against terrorism, now aimed at targets in Afghanistan, does not become an issue of dispute between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan.
Instead, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher tells reporters the goal will be to find ways that both countries can work together.
"When each of them has suffered from terrorism, each of them has suffered from problems coming out of Afghanistan," he said. "We think it's important to work with each of these governments which are key governments in terms of the overall effort."
Even before the war on terrorism, the Bush administration had been working to improve relations with both countries and has dropped many of the sanctions that were imposed after New Delhi and Islamabad conducted underground nuclear tests three years ago.