President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has assured strong support of the Maldives for the peace process between Israel and Palestine but stressed that peace talks would only be productive when Israel ceases building settlements in the West Bank.
President Waheed made the statement during a joint press conference held with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who arrived this afternoon on a two day official visit to the Maldives, the first by a Palestinian President since 1984.
Upon his arrival at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) a bugle call was sounded followed by a 7-Gun Salute and a guard of honor.
During his statement President Waheed reassured enduring support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for establishing the State of Palestine on the lands that Israel has occupied since 1967.
“I reiterated to President Abbas our support for a two state solution with Palestine and Israel living side by side at peace, through a negotiated settlement based on the relevant UN resolutions,” Waheed said.
He also assured his Palestinian counterpart that Maldives would back the Palestine’s application for membership of the United Nations and any other international organization.
President Waheed also highlighted that the Maldives has been a strong supporter of Palestine at the UN Human Rights Council, where the nation had continuously advocated for the rights of the Palestinian people.
“The world has to realize that without a Palestinian State, there can never be Palestinian rights. International recognition of the State of Palestine is no barrier to the continuation of the peace talks. Rather, it helps to bring a sense of equality to both sides in the negotiations,” Waheed added.
He further stressed that it was in the best interest of Israel to see the emergence of a viable and strong Palestine which would enable Israel to achieve its own security.
“An independent Palestinian state is necessary for achieving durable peace in the region. Most of all, it is necessary for healing the wounds of the past, and achieving reconciliation based on the principles of justice and equality,” Waheed added.
Referring to the official talks held by the two heads of state in the one-to-one meeting shortly before, President Waheed expressed confidence that the bonds of friendship that exist between the two countries will be strengthened.
President Mahmoud Abbas in his rather brief statement also highlighted the discussions between the two heads of states and expressed hope that his visit would further strengthen the historical relations between Palestine and Maldives.
Abbas also extended an invitation for President Waheed to make an official visit to Palestine in the near future.
When President Abbas had arrived in the capital Male for the official talks and press conference, he had been welcomed by various colorful cultural activities presented by students at the Republic Square.
In addition to the official talks between the two Presidents, Abbas will meet with the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today, followed by a State Luncheon tomorrow afternoon.
While the government has stressed that President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit was to an invitation by President Waheed, opposition has claimed that former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem of the previous administration had extended the invitation for the Palestinian President earlier.
The Maldives established diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine on April 4, 1982.
The last time a Palestinian President visited the Maldives was in July 1984, where the then President of Palestine Yasser Arafat had visited the Maldives on an invitation by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's government.