Narendra Modi and Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday (13) celebrated Diwali in the White House with top Indian-Americans and he said he was “grateful” for his friendship with Indian 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 Roosevelt Room of 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.

This is the second consecutive year that Trump has celebrated Diwali in the White House.

Besides top Indian-American officials of his administration, Trump had invited the Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Singh Sarna, his wife Dr Avina Sarna, and his special assistant Pratik Mathur for the White House Diwali celebrations.

“I’m honoured to host this beautiful ceremony at the White House,” Trump said. “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.”

The first White House Diwali festivities were held in 2003 under the then US President George W Bush.