Your Excellency, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka,
Distinguished Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and privilege for me to welcome Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and his delegation to the Maldives.
The Maldives and Sri Lanka enjoy a traditionally close and historical relationship. As the closest of neighbours in the Indian Ocean, we share much in common – our values, histories and cultures are intertwined.
Maldives - Sri Lanka relations and interactions between our peoples go way beyond even recorded history.
We recognize with gratitude, Sri Lanka’s significant contribution to capacity building and human resource development in the Maldives, especially in the areas of health, education, defence, youth development, and sports.
During this visit, the Prime Minister and I took stock of the progress made since we last met in February this year, and discussed ways in which we can further expand and strengthen our relationship. The MOUs we have signed today, are precisely aimed at contributing to this objective.
The Visa Facilitation Agreement we signed today will greatly ease the issue of parental, guardian and student visas for Maldivians.
The Prime Minister and I acknowledged the important contributions our respective communities residing in the Maldives and Sri Lanka make to enrich our cultures and economies. We agreed to cooperate even closer on consular matters.
On the health front, I expressed our appreciation to the Sri Lankan Government for the kind hospitality and excellent services provided to Maldivians who seek healthcare in Sri Lanka.
In particular, I take this opportunity to thank the Prime Minister for the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to allow the services of organ transplantation for Maldivians at Sri Lankan hospitals.
Investing in skills development and youth is a high priority for my Government. Today, we signed two important MoUs that will contribute to higher education, youth development and enhancing the capacity and quality of our human resources.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed international issues of mutual concern. We both reiterated that climate change is an urgent threat that needs our immediate attention and agreed to work together to strengthen the global response to climate change, on both mitigation and adaptation.
The Prime Minister and I also agreed to redouble our efforts to protect our people from the threat of terrorism. I reiterated to the Prime Minister our deepest sympathies to the Government and people of Sri Lanka for the terrorist attacks in April this year.
The Prime Minister and I also agreed on the need to work with all countries, in combatting terrorism, and countering violent extremism within the region and beyond.
The Maldives believes in multilateralism and fostering partnerships for development, progress, peace and security. My Government has been fully committed to a revival of relations between not only our two countries and our neighbours, but across the globe.
The preservation of peace and harmony in the Indian Ocean region is essential for the development, peace, and stability of both the Maldives and Sri Lanka. I have no doubt that the Indian Ocean Conference that will begin tomorrow will contribute immensely to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you most sincerely for the close and personal commitment to strengthen and enhance Maldives – Sri Lanka relations. I wish Your Excellency, and the people of Sri Lanka peace, progress and prosperity.