WASHINGTON - PRESIDENT Barack Obama's first act on Indian soil next month will be to take a stand against terrorism, as he checks into the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the focus of the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Mr Obama will stay the night at the restored portion of the seafront hotel, which was badly damaged by smoke, fire and explosions during the attacks by Islamist gunmen, after arriving in India on Saturday, Nov 6.

'Of course, India is a close counter-terrorism partner of the United States (and) has shown remarkable resilience in responding to terrorism,' said Mr Ben Rhodes, a key Obama foreign policy aide.

'The Taj, where the president is staying, was of course the centrepiece of those attacks in Mumbai.' Mr Obama will pay respects to the victims of the attacks, sign a guest book and make brief remarks to people connected with the attacks.

The oldest part of the Taj hotel underwent a 1.75 billion rupee (S$48 million) refit after it was badly damaged by fire, smoke, bullets and explosions during the 60-hour siege that began on Nov 26, 2008.

A total of 31 people, including 12 members of staff, were killed when heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed the hotel and then fought off Indian commandos. Across the city, 166 people died. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year stayed at the Taj but in the newer tower wing, which escaped the worst of the attack and reopened just under a month after the siege ended.

Obama to stay at terror-hit Taj