updated 10/15/2009 12:21:57 PM ET 2009-10-15T16:21:57

President Barack Obama is re-creating a federal panel to address concerns of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and to work on improving their health, education and economic status.

At the White House on Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order restoring the White House Advisory Commission and Interagency Working Group. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will serve as co-chairmen.

The panel was created during the Clinton administration. But it expired during George W. Bush's presidency and was not reauthorized.

During the East Room ceremony, Obama also observed Diwali, or the "Festival of Lights," a holiday celebrated across faiths in India.

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