Good evening madam high commissioner; good evening Members of the Cabinet; good evening Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and all the distinguished guests gathered here today.

We of course, have very long and very eventful relations with Bangladesh. It goes back, as the High Commissioner pointed out, to many centuries. Most of our trade, in Maldives’ middle history was with Bangladesh. Our traders imported the vast majority, the bulk of their produce or their goods from Bengali ports. And therefore, through time, we’ve had very close friendly relations with Bangladesh. So therefore Bangladesh has never been that much of a foreign country to us Maldivians.

But I would also like to stress and add, last night we celebrated 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s National Day. And also we do celebrate Indian independence and Indian National Day. Living here in the Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Maldives has always been able to have a very vintage watching point to look at this sub-continent. All three countries have very intricate relations. And in many senses will have an amazing challenge balancing in a very delicate line, the relationships between our three very big and very important very neighbourly neighbours.

SAARC summit is going to be held soon. It would again give us an opportunity to see how we may be able to bring more alignment to the development efforts of all our neighbours in the Indian Ocean and in south Asia. India is developing very rapidly. It has become one of the fastest moving industrial engines in the world, and it really would not do justice to our people if we cannot collaborate and if we cannot have mutually beneficial arrangements where the whole of the sub-continent can join in the move.

I have met the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a number of times since I took office. And I have been fortunate to have had a number of very long and, for me inspiring, conversations with the Prime Minister. I admired her will and strength in saving, I would say, in many respects I have written to her saying this, the Copenhagen Accord for what it is. She was one of the very few leaders who were able to stand up and make the case for developing or vulnerable countries. And I admire her immensely for that but of course I knew where this was coming from. It was coming from the whole of Bangladesh. She comes from that lineage and it is only that kind and strength of leadership which is what the people of Bangladesh is looking for from their leader. I am certain and I am sure, Bangladesh will be able to rise up and take its place in South Asia. It will be able to make great improvements in its development efforts. And I’m sure this is going to be beneficial for both the Maldives, the Bangladesh and the whole of south Asia.

It is with pleasure that I have come tonight, again, to celebrate Bangladesh’s Independence Day. I would like to welcome all Bangladeshis who are here with us in celebrating this day.

Thank you very much.