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Obama Recalls His Diwali Dance In Mumbai

PTI 14 Dec 2010, 13:53:15 IST
Washington, Dec 14 :  In the midst of festivities for Christmas, US President Barack Obama recalled the Diwali bash he celebrated in Mumbai last month, holding it out as an example of building partnerships between peoples.

"Our engagement includes building partnerships between our peoples. That's what Michelle and I worked to do during our recent visit to India, for example, which occurred during Diwali," Obama said recollecting the joyous moments of his celebrating the festival of lights at a school in Mumbai.

Obama gave the illustration of his first Diwali experience to hard nosed diplomats at a holiday reception party at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"As many of you have seen, during a Diwali celebration with some of the school children, Michelle joined in the dance. So did I. The difference was she was good," Obama said amidst laughter.

"The headlines were a little bruising to my ego. They said 'President Obama Visits India. Michelle Obama Rocks India'," Obama said.

The President said it was just one small example, but it spoke of a larger truth, one that's at the heart of this holiday season.

"When we reach out to one another, when we see beyond the differences that supposedly divide us, when we come together -- even if it's for some dance or some song, or a shared story, a shared memory -- we're reminded that fundamentally we are the same. There's a commonality between us. This is an essential human experience that we all share," he said.

"It gets lost in politics and it gets lost in rivalries. And there are barriers of ethnicity and religion and language. And yet, scratch the surface, take the time to get to know somebody else from a different culture, a different race, a different ethnicity, and it turns out that there are hopes and dreams that bind us together," he said.

"Our jobs, both as political leaders and as diplomats, is to make sure that those bonds are strengthened and broadened; that they penetrate into our respective nations; that each of us is able to stand in the other person's shoes and see through the other person's eyes; that people are no longer simply 'the other,' or simply foreigners, but are in fact our brothers and sisters," the President said.

"If we're insistent enough about the capacity to understand each other, then that translates concretely into some war that doesn't happen, some village that isn't destroyed, some child that gets something to eat, some disaster that is averted," Obama said.

America's commitment to diplomacy to building partnerships of mutual interest and mutual respect is going to remain a fundamental cornerstone of my foreign policy, Obama said.

"It will not change because not only is it right for America but it's right for the world," the president said. PTI