Three dozen foreign diplomats,  two Muslim American members of Congress  and some 9/11 families were among the guests invited to join President Barack Obama for what has become a White House tradition -- an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

"Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation," Obama said in his welcome remarks.

"Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years," Obama said.

The president said Ramadan was a time for reflection for Muslims and noted that this year it fell near the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama recognized  Muslim Americans who died in the attacks, others who responded in the aftermath and members of the military fighting in the wars that followed.