indica Washington Bureau
Describing India as a ‘very good negotiator,’ President Trump celebrated Diwali at the White House with some of the key Indian American members of his administration.
It is the second consecutive year that Trump celebrated the festival of lights and the community at the White House.
“The United States has deep ties to the nation of India and I am grateful for my friendship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump said before lighting the ceremonial Diya in the historic Roosevelt Room.
“We’re trying very hard to make better trade deals with India. But, they’re very good traders. They’re very good negotiators. You would say right. The best. So we’re working. And it’s moving along,” Trump said.
Among the key community members presented were the Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Singh Sarna and his wife Dr Avina Sarna.
“India is the world’s largest democracy and the relationship between our two countries connect as a bulwark for freedom, prosperity, and peace,” Trump told the community members.
Sarna said they feel very welcome here and so integrated with the American society”.
Trump added: “As we light the Diya in the White House we are joined by in a fellowship with all of those who light lamps in their own home, cities and places of worship”.
Trump said Americans of Indian and South East Asian heritage have done an incredible job and identified several of them by name including the chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai; Manisha Singh, Acting Under Secretary of the Department of State and Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others.
“Our nation is blessed to be home to millions of hardworking citizens of Indian and South East Asian heritage to enrich our country in countless ways. Together we are one proud American family. Do we agree with that? I think so. I think we do. Right? Better, believe it,” the US president said.
In 2017 President Trump celebrated his first Diwali in the Oval Office with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, senior officials from his administration and a small group of Indian Americans.
The first White House Diwali celebrations was held in 2003 under the then US President George W Bush, who never attended the celebrations in person.
Since 2003, Diwali celebrations at the White House has become an annual tradition.
Later, Trump’s tweet calling Diwali a “holiday observed by Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains” started a raging twitter storm over his apparent omission of Hindus.
However, in another tweet, he said: “It was my great honor to host a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in the Roosevelt Room at the @WhiteHouse this afternoon. Very, very special people!”