On the joyous occasion of the 56th Anniversary of Independence I wish to convey my sincere felicitations to His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, the Government and the People of Maldives living here in Bangladesh and abroad, and at home.

This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Maldives and Bangladesh. On this happy occasion, I extend warm wishes and greetings to the Government and People of Bangladesh who con-tinue to demonstrate their unwavering friendship and strong partnership for over four decades. As I take stock of the close bilateral cooperation that has developed between our two Governments and our peoples, I note that our relationship has been elevated to a much higher level this year. In March this year, His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih undertook a state visit to Bangladesh to join the celebrations of the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Bangladesh as guest of honour. Earlier in February, Foreign Minister His Excellency Abdullah Shahid made an official visit. Dur-ing both visits the bilateral engagements between our countries were further en-hanced through new agreements in several key areas, including fisheries, human re-sources placement, cultural exchange and foreign office consultations.

On the economic front, a significant number of Bangladeshis are con-tributing to our development programmes through working in crucial sectors such as construction, tourism and agriculture, helping to bridge acute skills gaps in our country. And with the significant gains in economic development achieved by both our countries, we must now make a more concerted effort to increase trade, com-merce and investment between us.

I take this opportunity to thank the Government of Bangladesh for the continued assistance extended to Maldives in combating the ongoing Covid-19 pan-demic, through relief assistance, repatriation of Maldivians stranded in Bangladesh and Nepal and deploying medical teams of the Bangladesh Armed forces. I com-mend and appreciate the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina for her leadership and the effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Bangladesh.

It is my wish that the bonds of friendship between our two countries will be further strengthened in the years to come, and I wish for continued econom-ic progress and increased prosperity for both our countries and the South Asian re-gion.