Obama to celebrate Diwali with Indian Kids

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) Underscoring India's importance as "a cornerstone" of broader Asia approach of a US focused on expanding exports, President Barack Obama begins a four-nation trip to Asia next week with his first halt in Mumbai.

Obama's three-day schedule in India is built around the context of expanding US exports to India while increasing investments by Indian corporations in the United States, a top aide said at a White House briefing Wednesday.

Leaving here Friday, Obama arrives in India's financial capital Saturday, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes said outlining his schedule.

Obama will stay at the Taj Hotel, a major target of November 2008 terror attacks. He'll make a statement at the hotel to commemorate the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

On the second day in India, Obama will visit a Mumbai school and participate in Diwali celebrations. Then he'll go to a town hall with university students, where he'll focus on partnerships, agriculture and food security. Obama will highlight India's successes as the world's largest democracy, Rhodes said.

On day three, Obama will go to New Delhi to have a "private dinner" with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rhodes said.

The next day, Obama will lay a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi at Rajghat, visit Humayun's Tomb, an architectural precursor to the Taj Mahal, then meet with Manmohan Singh and give a news conference.

He'll also address the Indian parliament before going to a state dinner. On Nov 9, he'll go to Jakarta.

First lady Michelle Obama will accompany the president in India and Indonesia, while the two first daughters will remain home to continue their schooling, Rhodes said.


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