Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the Maldives; the Indian High Commissioner; the Bangladeshi High Commissioner and the High Commissioner’s wife; our Foreign Ministry officials; and every one present here.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives, of course, have had very long relationship that goes back many years. Long before any of our countries were independent, our forefathers were engaged in trade, culture and, of course, there was so much more connection especially through our Buddhist link, the Islamic and Buddhist links between Maldivians and Sri Lankans.
The last one thousand years has not changed things at all. We continued to trade with each other. Sri Lanka is one of the biggest trading partners with the Maldives. For us a prosperous Sri Lanka is for the benefit of both our countries. Of course, a peaceful Sri Lanka is to the benefit of both our countries.
I am sure that the good people of Sri Lanka under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapakse will flourish. Sri Lanka, of course, soon after ending the war, has now taken its development goals very seriously. Even with the natural disasters that all our countries see from time to time, Sri Lanka is able to move forward and achieve its development goals.
We would wish Sri Lankans in the Maldives, Sri Lankans every where a very happy Independence Day. The Maldives independence is also so much linked to Sri Lankan independence and we wish them another more prosperous year than the year we have just left.

Thank you very much and I will raise a toast to our good relations and friendship between Sri Lanka and the Maldives.