Obama to celebrate Diwali with school kids in Mumbai

US President Barack Obama would begin his India visit on November 6 with a message of condolence for the victims of 26/11 and will then celebrate Diwali.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2010, 12:42 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama would begin his India visit on November 6 with a message of condolence for the victims of 26/11 and will then celebrate Diwali with school children along with First Lady Michelle.

Obama would also visit the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai where he is also scheduled to attend a major business meeting, before heading to New Delhi, a top White House official has said, briefing reporters on Obama`s maiden trip to India from November 6 to November 9.

Obama would celebrate the festival of lights with children in Mumbai. But Diwali celebrations would not commence until he pays homage to the victims of 26/11 on November 6 at the Taj Hotel -- which was the "centerpiece" of the 2008
terror attacks.

"The first event that the President will do will be a statement at the Taj Hotel, where he`s staying, to commemorate the Mumbai terrorist attacks," said Deputy National Security
Advisor for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes.

He pointed out that India is a close counterterrorism partner of the US and it has shown "remarkable resilience" in responding to terrorism.

He said Obama desired to pay his respects to the victims as also to make brief remarks to a group of people connected to the attacks.

Obama will then visit the Gandhi Museum. It is notable that the US President considers Mahatma Gandhi as one of his inspirations.

Rhodes said it is important to note that the US and India are world`s largest democracies, a fact fundamental to their relationship and which makes it a "qualitatively
different relationship" with shared interests and values.

"... The example of Gandhi is one that has inspired Americans, inspired African-Americans, including Dr (Martin Luther) King, and is very personally important to the
president. So we`re looking forward to visiting the Gandhi Museum to underscore those shared experiences and shared values," Rhodes said.

Obama will then attend a business summit organised by the US-India Business Council, Rhodes said, adding that US was keen on discussing business opportunities in the huge dynamic and growing market of India and ways to deepend economic ties.

The President will participate in a roundtable with entrepreneurs, another one with some US CEOs, where challenges and opportunities of doing business in India will be
discussed, before delivering a speech to the business summit.

"So the speech the President will be the centerpiece of the day, again, focusing this day on the US-India economic relationship, the enormous potential for both countries to
expand growth and opportunity for our people through that relationship," he said.

PTI