On January 5th and 6th, Indian State TV Channel Dhoordarshan, as well as the independent channel Star News repeatedly played a video-clipping of President Gayoom calling for "the condemnation and elimination of all acts of terror, whenever and wherever it appears, to safeguard peace, democratic ideals and economic prosperity."
On the front page of its January 6th Edition, Hindustan Times, the most influential newspaper in India, quoted President Gayoom:
" Terrorism must be eliminated wherever it appears. It endangers civilization, subverts democratic ideals and disrupts economic activity."
The president was speaking at the opening ceremony of the SAARC Summit in Katmandu, Nepal. The heads of governments of all the seven SAARC countries spoke at the ceremony. But what must fill all Maldivian hearts with pride is the fact that the media has given more attention to President Gayoom's remarks then to those of leaders of much larger countries like Bangladesh and even the host country Nepal.
President Gayoom seen here with the US Ambassador
to the Maldives
During his speech, the President also urged SAARC member states to enable the Association to build a better future, where the peoples of the region can prosper in peace, security and happiness. The President said:
"Indeed, South Asia’s destiny is indivisible. And it is one that we can and must shape together."
Drawing on his long experience as one of the founder members of SAARC, the President outlined an inspiring vision for the association. He said economic cooperation should remain the main focus of the Association’s activities. The President added that, SAARC had already made substantial pledges on the economic front and that redeeming these pledges alone would provide the people greater economic opportunity and an improved quality of life.
Speaking on regional environmental co-operation, the President noted that as the health of the environment is of direct consequence to the livelihood of millions of people everywhere and that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, SAARC needed to become make more progress in the area of environmental conservation. Furthermore, the President informed that preparations are well in hand to open a SAARC Coastal Zone Management Center in Male’.
The President said that it is a matter of great satisfaction to all that the SAARC Convention on Regional Agreements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia and the SAARC Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution is being signed today. The President added that this is an auspicious start to the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child, which was agreed at the Male’ Summit.
Speaking on enhancing the role of SAARC in the international arena, the President noted that, as stressed during the Male’ Summit, the role of informal political consultations can pave the way for more effective regional co-operation. The President added that, meetings at the level of Heads of State or Government provided an opportunity to reduce tension, build mutual trust and promote greater understanding in the region. The President said:
"We must open all doors for fostering a culture of peace and tolerance in South Asia."