Your Excellency; The Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Ladies and Gentlemen who are present here, Good Evening.

Bangladesh and Maldives; relations between us, of course goes a long, long way back.

As traders we have always had a good contact with Bengali ports. Our products and our produce have always represented Bangladeshi productions.

In recent times both our countries have been more strongly joined, not only through the advent of the South Asia Regional Corporation, but also the immense contribution made by the Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives in our development efforts.

We are very thankful for the very good work done by the Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives and we strongly believe that health condition and living conditions for the migrant workers, the Bangladeshi workers living in the Maldives has to improve.

We are also very fortunate to have a very strong democratic leadership in Bangladesh who is advocating in the international arena on matters that are very dear and close to us for our survival: climate change.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister with her immense authority on international affairs and her immense experience in international affairs has always assisted me personally and the Maldives in impressing the international community on the gravity of the issues that we face: most importantly climate change.

Her contribution in the Copenhagen Summit and later on in Cancun is always appreciated not only by the Maldives but by the wider international community.

Bangladesh has also assisted us and worked with us in many areas that have had a very strong relevance to the Maldives - recently, and most importantly in multilateral donor agency funding mechanisms. Procurement Procedures of International Donor Agencies has been very, very difficult to many, many developing countries.

Bangladesh has a very strong set of experiences and working relationships with these agencies and therefore we have been able to work very closely with the Prime Minister in again trying to impress upon these agencies the need for them to revise their procedures.

Donor agency funding mechanisms and their own cycles related to their own administrative affairs, not relating very much to the development efforts of recipient countries. This has been an issue that is very widely understood and discussed in Bangladesh and I’m grateful for the work the Prime Minister is doing in this area.

The Maldives and Bangladesh can work together in many fields. We can of course increase our trade volume. We should make our connectivity better than what it is now.

The SAARC has a program to increase transport connectivity among South Asians, the Indian Ocean islands and the subcontinent region. We hope that we will be able to embark on this program and get rapid results before the next SAARC Summit. We are happy and we are very grateful and of course we will welcome the Prime Minister to the Maldives during the SAARC Summit.

As the High Commissioner pointed out, this will be the first SAARC Summit held in the Southern Hemisphere.

We hope to think outside the box. We hope to come out with solutions that would assist our region and its people. South Asia of course deserves much better. We are, the South Asia is, one of the fastest growing regions in the world. But very often, our people, a large number of our people are left behind in these efforts. We want to see a wider distribution of wealth. We want to see poverty as a thing of the past. We want to see safe drinking waters, sewerage systems, electricity. We want to see roads, schools and hospitals. We want to see a better life for South Asia.

I’m sure working with Bangladesh, working with the South Asian community, we will be able to achieve our aspirations.

Thank you very much.