President begins trip marking Mumbai attacks, meeting CEOs

President Obama began his trip to Asia on Saturday by commemorating the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai and praising the resilience of the people of India.

Obama spoke at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, where terrorists and hostage-takers sparked explosions and a fire during the coordinated attacks that froze the city in fear for days.

{mosads}”We’ll never forget the awful images of 26/11, including the flames from this hotel that lit up the night sky,” he said. “We’ll never forget how the world, including the American people, watched and grieved with all of India.

“But the resolve and the resilience of the Indian people during those attacks stood in stark contrast to the savagery of the terrorists.”

Thirty-one died at the Taj Mahal, with 166 killed in all of the attacks that also included Oberoi Trident Hotel and a Jewish center. Four Americans were included in the death toll. The Pakistani attackers were linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“The perpetrators wanted to pit believers of different faiths against one another. But they failed,” Obama said. “Because here in Mumbai, the diversity that is India’s strength was on full display: Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews and Muslims protecting each other, saving each other, living the common truth of all the world’s great religions, that we are all children of God.”

Obama said he looked forward to strengthening counterterrorism operations, which could strain ties with Pakistan, when he sat down for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The president and the first lady continued their Saturday by visiting the Mani Bhavan Ghandi Museum, where Obama wrote in the guest book, “I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to visit this testament to Gandhi. He is a hero not just to India, but to the world.”

According to the pool report, Obama remarked that it was “pretty cool” to see Martin Luther King Jr.’s signature, dated 1959, in another guest book.

Obama then met with business leaders and delivered remarks at the USIBC Business Summit.

“Folks back home in the U.S. need to embrace
the possible partnership with India, as a democracy, one that
appreciates human rights, pluralism, one that has an entrepreneurial
culture,” Obama said in meeting with American CEOs with whom he’d discussed recent business deals.

On Sunday, the Obamas will visit a school in Mumbai and attend a ceremony to celebrate the holiday of Diwali. He will hold a town hall forum with students at St. Xavier College before moving on to New Delhi to meet with the prime minister.


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