We gather here today to mark your independence and the birth of your republic.

I come from a very similar land, the Maldives. We are also in the middle of the Indian Ocean and we face all the challenges that the sea and the environment can throw at us as much as you face these very similar challenges. Very often we have been referred to, the Maldives has been referred to, as the paradise but now I am certain that I completely believe Mark Twain when he said that paradise itself was a copy of Mauritius.

I am so glad to be in your very hospitable, beautiful country. I have had a very good day.

The Prime Minister, his wife and everyone in your government has been looking after us very well. The Prime Minister has just pointed out, of course, that as I was born, Mauritius itself was born as a free country.

And so I am therefore, delighted to be here with you all strengthening a bond between our two nations. We have had diplomatic relations for a very long time, for the last 30 years in fact.

But now we share too many commonalities.

Out country has been able to galvanize the public to political activism, build political parties, amend the constitution, have free and fair elections and most importantly we have had a very smooth transfer of power from the dictatorship to our present democracy.

We, therefore, now share with your country, exactly the same values that you have in your heart in achieving development and happiness for our people.

Mauritius has been a very, very strong partner in the international forum with the Maldives. Prime Minister has, of course, pointed out many, many instances when we have had to collaborate and when we have done that.

I am sure we will be able to increase our collaboration, really cement our friendship and come out as a singularity and meet the challenges that we face.

Indian Ocean is, in a sense, littered by small islands. This is the ocean of the islands and, therefore, if us, island nations cannot make the Indian Ocean and the countries around it a peaceful and a happy and stable place I am sure that no one else can do it.

We have to rise to the occasion. We maybe small but we can punch well above our height. And with your Prime Minister, I am sure that we will be able to do that internationally. I am sure he will be able to deliver his promises to the good people of Mauritius.

We politicians have a habit of going on and on, but I am sure we have dinner waiting for you. It’s a great pleasure. This is my first trip to the country and I would like to see the Prime Minister in the Maldives. I have a full day and the day after that, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. I am sure I will be able to learn a lot more about your country, have many, many more conversations, discussions and hopefully embark on a very, very long journey that will take both our countries and peoples to greater happiness and prosperity.

Thank you.