President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered best wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world as they observe the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
"All of us must remember that the world we want to build -- and the changes that we want to make -- must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement offering the traditional holiday greeting: "Ramadan Kareem."
"Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and sharing. American Muslims make valuable contributions to our country every day and millions will honor this month with acts of service and giving back to their communities," she said.
Both Clinton and Obama were set to host Iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast. Clinton was co-hosting an event with dozens of embassies in the US capital, while Obama was to receive guests for the meal at the White House.
Obama said the rituals of Ramadan "remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings."
"Here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country," said the president.
"And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world -- and your families and friends -- as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan," he said. "May God's peace be upon you."
© AFP 2013