Trump praise ties with India and friendship with Modi as he lights a Diwali Diya

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Washington: While US President Donald Trump celebrated Diwali in the White House on Tuesday, he described India as “very good negotiators” and said he is “grateful” for his friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“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 of the White House. It is the second consecutive year that Trump has celebrated the largest festival of India and Indian Americans in the White House.

“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 referring to the India-US trade deal negotiations that have started between the two largest democracies of the world.

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Along with nearly two dozen top Indian American officials of his Administration, President Trump had invited the Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Singh Sarna, his wife Dr Avina Sarna, and his special assistant Pratik Mathur to be present during the White House Diwali celebrations.

“I’m honored to host this beautiful ceremony at the White House. Very, very special people. We’re gathered today to celebrate a very special holiday observed by Buddhist, Sikhs and Jains throughout the United States and around the world. Hundreds of millions of people have gathered with family and friends to light the Diya and to mark the beginning of a New year: very special new year,” Donald Trump said.

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. A senior administration official represented him. It was mostly held in the India Treaty Room of Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex.

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