New York: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi importance of a strong working relationship between India and the US, underscoring that such ties are critical for democracy and security around the world.
The Mayor said he was honoured to have spent time with the visiting Indian leader last week.
"We talked about how the two greatest, strongest democracies of the world need a strong working relationship. The world hinges in so many ways on that natural, strong relationship between India and the United States," he said at the 27th Annual Deepavali Festival organised here by the New York Chapter of the Association of Indians in America.
"We think about India, we think about the United States of America, we think about what links us, which is the extraordinary Indian-American community. This community exemplifies the best of both cultures, the best of both countries. And the countries are united by a shared belief in democracy India, the world's largest democracy, an example to the whole world," he said.
Lauding the contributions of the Indian-Americans, he said community members are the ambassadors and a significant link to strengthening the bilateral relationship "for the good of all, for the good of democracy, for the good of security around the world."
The mayor was among a host of political and business leaders who had called on Modi during his visit to the city for the United Nations General Assembly session last week.
Extending his wishes to the community on the occasion of the festival of lights, he said the Indian-Americans have made significant contributions to the US as well as to New York.
The mayor said the strength of the city lies in the rich culture and vitality that immigrants have brought to it over the years.
He said the immigration debate in the US has generated a lot of "misunderstanding" about people from different cultures coming to the country and seeking to make it their new home.
"In too much of the debate in this country there is a misunderstanding. When the topic of immigration comes up, too many people treat it as a negative. In New York City, we understand that immigration is our life blood. Immigration makes us stronger and better," he said.
The mayor highlighted that from next year, a municipal identity card would be issued to all residents of the five NYC boroughs, regardless of their immigration status.
"We're not going to wait for a federal government that can't come up with a comprehensive immigration reform. We're going to issue our own municipal ID card," he said, adding that such a card would be for any New Yorker regardless of documentation status "because we are all New Yorkers. We are all equal. We are all appreciated. We are all respected."