Waheed to meet Mahinda close on heels of defence MoUJuly 27, 2012, 9:19 pm
By Zacki Jabbar in the Maldives
Close on the heels of the Maldives signing an agreement with Sri Lanka for defence training, its President Mohammed Waheed was scheduled to pay an official visit to Sri Lanka. He would be meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa prior to the end of the ongoing holy month of Ramazan, diplomatic sources said.
Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, who was in Colombo last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Sir John Kotalawala Defence University, which would provide MNDF personnel military training and an opportunity to enroll for its degree courses.
Sources said that the Sri Lankan President had assured Nazim that his government would assist the Maldivian army in every possible manner. They had also discussed the conduct of joint operations to patrol the Economic Zones between the two countries.
The Defence Ministers visit was preceded by the Maldives Deputy President, Waheed Deen and State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon.
President Waheed addressing the reception to mark the 47th anniversary of his country’s independence, held at the National Museum in Male on Wednesday night, said that he was determined to restore peace to his archipelago, which was facing turbulent times with continued demonstrations on the streets of the capital by the Maldivian Democratic Party, led by former President Mohammed Nasheed, who resigned on February 7, this year after weeks of opposition demonstrations and refusal of the police and military to follow what they called illegal orders from the Chief Executive.
Striking a conciliatory note, Waheed said he believed it was possible to regain the peace and quiet. But to achieve it, all needed to be much more forgiving, caring and place national interest above personal ones.
Thanking Almighty Allah for having bestowed on them one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, he observed that Maldives was known to be peaceful, brotherly and a place for people to come and be happy.
Recalling his youth, the President noted that Maldives used to be a much happier place. "I remember on this very street, as a child, I used to play soccer with my friends. Times have changed, Male has changed and we have changed. No longer can we go out onto the streets and play soccer. Nevertheless, it is our hope that we can walk around peacefully with our children, grand children and friends once more."
Many Ambassadors and High Commissioners to the Maldives, who are based in Colombo, were present at the function. Among those who attended were the Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, State Ministers, Government officials and heads of various independent organisations.
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