Your Excellency Dr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine; Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Former President of Maldives; Hon Abdulla Shahid Speaker of the Parliament; Hon Ahmed Faiz Hussain Chief Justice; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Assalaam Alaykum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,

On behalf of the Government and the people of the Maldives, I am very pleased to extend to Your Excellency, our warmest welcome to the Maldives. It is a special privilege and honour for us to host Your Excellency on your first State Visit to the Maldives. Your visit reaffirms the close bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries.

Mr President,

The Palestinian struggle for peace, justice, and independence has captured the imagination of the Maldivian people for generations. No international issue draws the same level of intensity and interest in the Maldives as the question of Palestine. For, the land of Palestine holds a special place in the conscience of Muslims all over the world; it is the cradle of human civilisation; it has been, for several millennia, the source of pride for the great monotheistic faiths of the world. Most of all, the question of Palestine remain in the hearts of Maldivians because of our commitment to justice, equality, and the rule of law. Our solidarity with Palestine and its people will never change. Our support for the establishment of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital will never diminish.

I would therefore like to reassure Your Excellency that the Maldives will continue to use its presence in all international organisations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, to advocate the cause of Palestine. We firmly believe that the State of Palestine should be granted full membership of the United Nations. We will keep reminding the international community of its obligation to promote and protect the full enjoyment of fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

Mr President,

There is a special level of warmth and closeness between our two countries that is evident in the candour of our exchanges and the ease with which we relate to each other. And your visit to our country is yet another milestone to the historic ties that symbolizes the Maldives-Palestine bilateral relations. We also cherish the memory of the visit of the late President of Palestine, H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat in July 1984. Your Excellency’s visit, no doubt, has certainly paved the way for even closer collaboration in the years ahead.

Mr President,

I wish you good health and happiness. May our brothers and sisters in Palestine enjoy peace and prosperity.

Thank you and Wassalaam Alikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh