Ladies and gentlemen, Assalaam Alaikum. I would like to extend from the bottom of my heart my warm greetings to all of you who have joined us here tonight from all parts of Maldivian society, and I also want to recognize the women and men from the United States Embassy who are also here with us. My wife is also here and we have been very fortunate to enjoy the warm hospitality and the immense natural beauty of the Maldives.
Friends, it is such a delight to see all of you and thank you very much for your time. I’ll be brief, but I want to make a couple of remarks, if you’ll permit me.
The United States has a very bright vision of a Maldives that is peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and stable. We have a vision of a Maldives with human rights, impartial application of the rule of law, and equal opportunity for all. It is a vision of an archipelago that can enhance the stability and security of the broader Indo Pacific region. And it is a vision of Maldivian society based on a strong, open, participatory democracy, robust civil society, free and independent media, and an empowered citizenry who can exercise their full democratic rights peacefully and without fear.
I spent the last three days meeting with government officials, journalists, political party members, and representatives from civil society. In those meetings, I emphasized that the recent events in Maldives remain a matter of concern. As Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal said recently, “We strongly encourage the Maldives to return to the democratic practices that will ensure its future success.”
To help achieve a positive vision for the future of Maldives, America stands ready to offer its support, as we are already doing in several important areas.
Following the tsunami in 2004, the United States provided $12 million for relief and reconstruction assistance in Maldives, including an upgrade of damaged water supply, sewage, and power systems.
In partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Maldivian Red Crescent, we are building medical capacity for sparsely populated islands and remote atolls to provide disease prevention, emergency response, and basic life support services.
We recently completed a First Responder seminar for two islands in Raa Atoll covering CPR and first aid techniques that can mean the difference between life and death for patients who are far from a hospital.
Our United States Agency for International Development assistance focuses on strengthening the sustainable management of coastal resources, particularly coral reefs, and we are helping build a desalination plant and water distribution network on Hinnavaru in Lhaviyani Atoll.
We also applaud the Maldives’ leadership in helping forge the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The U.S. is also providing English language training, library books, and a wide range of programming at our American Center right here in Male.
We are also working in partnership with the people of Maldives to counter violent extremism, and to curb the spread of terrorism.
Friends, all of these activities reinforce that the United States is dedicated to achieving a very positive vision for the future of this nation.
To all Maldivians who share our positive vision for the future, who are working to achieve this vision, let me close my remarks by assuring you that the United States will continue to stand by your side.
Thank you again for joining us all tonight. Shukuriyah!