The US Ambassador to the Maldives; the Speaker of the Parliament; Members of the Parliament; Government Ministers; American Government Dignitaries; and everyone who is present here today. Good Evening.

Indeed, we have had very fruitful 2 and half years of engagements with the US government. This has been more after our first multiparty elections and then the transfer of power soon after that.

We have, during the course of last 2 and half years, had a number of challenges. But, of course, we do believe that we are presently now in a better situation than when we last met here celebrating the previous year’s the United States Independence Day.

We still have a number of challenges ahead of us. But I believe that it is possible for us to find solutions and then we are able to move forward. There are certain issues that, of course, both the Opposition and the Government agree upon and, of course, there are a number of issues that we cannot, we seem to unable to agree upon. But as we go along, as we go on, we are increasingly finding these gaps are narrowing.

The issue of the former president has always been a cornerstone, or a fundamental issue for the Opposition, and rightly so. And we would always be very accommodative, as much as we can, in finding solutions on how we may be respectively be able to deal with the former President, the former government, the former everything.

While we try to transit from the former to the present or to the future, we of course, cannot leave the past behind. The past is what is available for us to go for the future. And therefore, I would like to assure the Ambassador, and everyone else here, and everyone else around that whatever challenges we face, we will still find solutions for these issues.

One very serious issue that the American government has found issue with us is, rightly so again, has been on the issue of human trafficking and the expatriate labour issues here.

Recently the government has finally decided that they will act, and very vigorously act. The government has stopped all immigration normal procedures. We have been able to come up with a taskforce that is going to take over and clean the whole network of immigration and border control.

In the course of these activities, in these actions, we are uncovering a fair amount of extensive rings of human exchange and dealings in unskilled labour. This is an issue that we are concerned about - we want to respect human rights; we want to live in a dignified manner in the family of nations; and that is what we have always been striving for. And I do believe that our people will back the government in finding solutions for human trafficking and other issues related to human trafficking.

Border control and international issues go very much hand in hand. After all, that is the borders that differentiate us from others. Controlling them in the manner in which we control them will always be related, or will always have a reference to other countries. The United States has been a very supportive partner with us in trying to develop systems, methods, structures, institutions in dealing with these very difficult issues.

Again Ambassador, and again everyone else, we are moving forward and we believe that we will find solutions for this.

The Parliament, during the last year, Ambassador, since we had our last Independence Day here, have matured immensely. The Speaker has been able to very handsomely deliver in very many very difficult situations. At times he is either criticized by us or criticized by them, there is no proper way for him, and I think that is good indication of how clever and how much that he is able to deliver. And therefore, thank you the Speaker.

Generally, I think, although we still have a fair amount to deal with, I certainly now feel that we have a better grip on things and this is going in the right direction,

The changes, especially that we intend to bring to the economic and financial systems of the country, the financial reforms, in my mind, are as wide, and the depth of it, the substance of it is as great as the constitutional reforms that we brought, that have installed multiparty democracy here.

Bringing these necessary economic changes will again be painful. No one likes taxes. No one likes someone else to look into your work, look into your business and meddle with it. That is the nature of business, and we understand that.

But also I think the vast majority of the businessmen and including Mr Qasim, who is now member of the Judicial Service Commission, as well as one of the leading industrialists in this country, have been clearly supportive and backed our economic policies, stating that he does believe in the new reforms that we have put forward. And I take his point when he says that, of course, there are a number of very extravagant government spending that still goes on and we need to bring them down. Certainly we need to bring them down.

But I think because we have cross-party, and I think, I believe we have support and engagement of very wide spectrum of businessmen and people in delivering these economic reforms, we will be able to come out successfully hopefully by the end of the year.

The United States has during the past year given us strength through their foreign policy engagements in the rest of the world. We were able to recongnize the democratic process in Egypt fairly early in the day and we were again so pleased to see that bigger nations, the United States, are supporting exactly in a similar fashion as we do our work in Egypt. Again in Libya, in Tunisia, in Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, we are working and we have our principles, we have our views and our visions and we are hopeful and we get strength because the United States has the similar policies and we are able to work with them.

The United States has also, besides the number of many engagements that the Ambassador has pointed out, embarked on a number of projects that they, usually in the course of their engagements that they have not in the past. I think the people of Dhidhdhoo and the people of Hinnavaru will be extremely happy that they will be able to have fresh water through the United States assistance.

The list actually goes on. Strengthening our police service, strengthening our defence forces and also again on border control issues and anti-terrorism issues, we are able to work with the United States.

We will make many mistakes, we will in many instances perhaps disagree with a number of people internationally as well as locally. But I believe by and large we are on the right track we will go forward and we will win and we will deliver what we have promised to our people.

Again thank you very much Ambassador for assisting us in all our endeavours.

Thank you.