President Bush has departed for India and Pakistan, a trip aimed at cementing two crucial U.S. alliances and possibly hammering out an agreement to share civilian nuclear technology with India.

Mr. Bush first travels to India, where he will be greeted by businessmen and government officials eager to boost trade and military ties. Crowds of protesters also have staged rallies against Mr. Bush's visit.

In New Delhi, efforts continue to reach an agreement on a civilian nuclear deal that would allow India to buy nuclear power reactors and fuel from the United States, if India opens up its civilian nuclear facilities to United Nations inspections.

Last week, President Bush said the U.S. values relations with both India and Pakistan. He said he will use his visit to urge the two countries to continue working toward creating a lasting peace in troubled Kashmir, parts of which both countries claim.

He said Pakistan is a key U.S. ally, but many in Washington want to see Islamabad make stronger efforts to dismantle terrorist training camps.

Mr. Bush also has indicated he wants to make sure Pakistani elections scheduled for next year are free and fair.

Pakistani opposition parties say President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has refused to allow true democracy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.