Madam President,

Allow me to extend the very warm congratulations of the Maldivian delegation to you on your election as the President of the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Your election to that high office is the expression of confidence the Member States of the United Nations have in your indisputably high qualifications to guide us in the work of this session; it is an indication of the respect the Members of this Organization have for your country; it is also an expression of their recognition of the important role that Africa plays in the leadership of the world of today.

I now have the sad duty of recalling. the memorable services rendered so skillfully to the General Assembly by the late President of the twenty-third session. It is with deep regret that the Maldivian delegation pays its respects to the memory of His Excellency Mr. Emiho Arenales, whose passing away was a great loss to his country as well as to the United Nations; for we have lost a great statesman of rare charm. This is an appropriate occasion to record, once again, our admiration for the distinguished Secretary-General of this Organization and his dedicated services in the cause of world peace. Let me convey to him the warm support of the Maldivian Government and the people of my country for every step that he takes towards that goal.

I should also like to extend our congratulations to the Vice Presidents and to assure them of the fullest cooperation of the Maldivian delegation in the conduct of the difficult task ahead of them.

The twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly is being held in a year which has brought glimpses of hope in certain areas. It also led us to the brink of a full-scale war in another part of the world. It has been a year of outstanding success for mankind in outer space, while the rates of growth in income and over-all development on this planet itself have fallen short of their target. Reason and understanding seem to be developing among some important countries, while in some other parts of the world incidents heading to conflicts between neighbors have resulted in the loss of many lives and disturbed the peace of the respective regions. This, then, is the year we are assessing.

In my statement to the twenty-third session I stated that the situation in the Middle East should not "be permitted to worsen any further" (1701st meeting para. 7). To the disturbed concern of everyone, it has deteriorated during the past months to the extent that the Secretary-General has had to warn that "a virtual state of war exists", and again that "open warfare has been resumed" twice during the last six months. In the introduction to hit annual report, the Secretary-General further states that "war actually is being waged throughout the area, short only of battles between large bodies of troops", (A~7601/Add.1, para.623 .

Aside from the political aspects of the question, we were shocked and deeply grieved by the recent incident in Jerusalem, when the Al Aqea Mosque was heavily damaged by arson. We joined with the rest of the Moslem world in calling for an impartial investigation into the incident and for measures to prevent recurrence of such actions in the holy places in Jerusalem. We continue to believe that a permanent solution to the entire question to the Middle East could be found on the basis of the Security Council resolution of 22 November 1967 (2242 (1967)). We reaffirm our support for all aspects of that resolution.

The Maldivian Government has been observing with keen interest the “Big Four" consultations and the bilateral talks between the United States and the Soviet Union in their efforts to assist Ambassador Jarring in his mission. We appeal to the Governments of all countries of the region to take note of the Secretary-General's observation that there is more than one procedural route to peace" (A/7601/Add.1, para. 67) and cooperate with every move towards establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Too much suffering has been experienced by millions of innocent people in the area. Too many have sacrificed themselves to the causes they held sacred.

In Vietnam, signs of peace seem to have appeared on the horizon. Although the peace talks in Paris have not shown progress, there appears to be a certain amount of willingness on the part of all concerned to halt the fighting and work out an acceptable peace formula in that much embattled country. My Government remains convinced that the people of Vietnam should finally be permitted to choose their own future under an acceptable method of international supervision and free from any foreign pressure or force. During the twenty-third session of the General Assembly my delegation ventured to suggest that such supervision could be either by a United Nations commission or by a special representative of the Secretary-General .

If there seems to be a ray of hope in South-East Asia, the picture in Africa is not so rosy. The illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia has tightened its hold on the indigenous population of that unfortunate country. The abhorrent policy of apartheid in South Africa continues, despite the innumerable resolutions of this Assembly The Maldivian Government deplores the attitude of those authorities. We are equally concerned over the situation in Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau). It is time for the governing authorities of those Territories to realize that their inhuman practices must stop forthwith. It is time that racial discrimination and religious intolerance were up-rooted wherever they exist.

Once again we find the question of the representation of China in the United Nations on our agenda. The Maldivian Government's stand on that issue was outlined in my statement in the general debate last year (1701st meeting). Our position remains the same while we cannot support any move to expel the Republic of China, we believe it is time to work for an acceptable and practical method to grant membership in this Organization to the People'. Republic of China, if that is its desire and the wish of the majority of the Member States of this body.

This year has witnessed one of the most memorable achievements in the long history of mankind. Men from earth have conquered the space between this planet and the moon and, for the first time, set foot on the surface of the moon. This is an unparalleled achievement, for which the United States of America and its brave astronauts and brilliant scientists are to be congratulated. Supported by the knowledge and experience of their many past colleagues in the field, particularly those of the Soviet Union and the United States, the feat accomplished by the three American astronauts last July deserves the highest praise from one and all, for they are a credit not only to the United State.., but to all mankind.

While we take pride in our achievements, can we afford to overlook our disappointments? While we applaud our successes, can we forget our failures? Although we hail the advancement of science and technology, can we be expected to support the production and stockpiling of nuclear and bacteriological weapons? Those are some of the questions that run through our minds when we ponder awhile.

A glance around us will reveal the many problems facing us and the magnitude of theme The problem of the "population explosion" has yet to be remedied. While it is estimated that the population will increase by some 500 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America alone in the coming decade, it is distressing to note that extremely poor health conditions and malnutrition still dominate many developing countries. No doubt, there are encouraging signs in the field of agricultural development, but they are quickly overshadowed by the fact that food production is still out of step with the growth of population, which is expected, even by some less pessimistic observers, to double by the year 2000.

Despite efforts and considerable expenditure on the part of many developing countries to wipe out illiteracy and at the same time to expand and improve their educational facilities, much of what is aimed at has yet to be accomplished. This is due to many factors, not the least of which is their inability financially to move any further in this field. Here I must reiterate what I said last year that a people can be made aware of the need for over-all development only through a sound education. The importance given to education today by the United Nations can best be illustrated by its decision to designate the year 1970 as "International Education Year" (resolution 2412 (XXIII). I now come to the question of development. There is no doubt that some development has taken place in every country in the world, thanks to some donor countries, the United Nations, its specialized agencies and the leadership of the respective countries. However, an important factor in this connection must not be forgotten. The United Nations World Economic Survey for 1966 states:

"At the outset of the present Development Decade, the economically advanced countries agreed that 1 percent of their income and output should be devoted to international assistance. Progress towards the fulfillment of this aim on the part of most donor countries has been disappointing."

Compared with that statement, it is alarming to us as a so-called "mini-State" to see how much of the revenue of many developed countries is apportioned for their defense budget for the production of nuclear warheads and other destructive weapons. Far be it from my delegation to pass judgment on these issues, but let me say that this does create a doubt in our minds as to whether the noble words we so often hear have true meaning. We wonder whether the arms race must continue when the present stocks would be capable of destroying the world many times over. We ask whether the acceleration of the production of these dreadful weapons is more urgent and important than meeting the needs of the under-developed countries and under-privileged peoples. If so, how could the continually widening gap between the developed and developing, the rich and the poor countries, ever be narrowed?

These are only some of the many issues that confront us. The problems faced by mankind today were aptly described by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia when he referred to them as "peace or war, enslavement or independence, backwardness or development (1763r meeting, para. 133). However, as we approach the twenty-fifth anniversary of this Organization let us not be pessimistic, for we hear the echoes of "good relations" from Washington and Moscow. With President Nikon'. declaration that after a period of confrontation, we were entering an era of negotiation, it was encouraging to hear the offer of the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union in his address of 10 July to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Since then, we have also heard their recent statements in this Assembly. It would indeed be welcomed by all Member States of this Organization if quick and meaningful steps were taken by

the major Powers not only towards easing tension but also towards general and complete disarmament. These measures become all the more important in view of the fact that we are about to enter the Second United Nations Development Decade. If the decade of the 1970s could also be designated as a disarmament decade, as proposed by the Secretary-General (A/7601/Add.1, para.42), we could, we hope, look forward to the day when the world would be a safer place to live, with its entire population free from hunger, ill-health and ignorance and the road paved for true development.

I do not wish to take the time of this Assembly to comment here on all topics that are of interest to the Maldivian delegation. nor is it my intention to discuss all the items on the agenda of this session. However, I would be failing in my duty if I were to overlook two items which are of particular interest to us. I refer to the question of the reservation of the sea-bed for peaceful purposes and the problems of human environment. The Maldivian delegation supported all the resolutions adopted during the last session on the question of the peaceful uses of the sea-bed and was a co-sponsor of General Assembly resolution 2467 A(XXIII). We are observing with keen interest further measures that are being taken in this respect.

During the same session, a very important item - the problems of human environment - was introduced to the United Nations. I wish to take this opportunity of congratulating the delegation of Sweden on its timely action in introducing the item. This is a subject of great concern to the entire human race. The work already done by the Secretariat in this regard will be appreciated by all. The Maldivian Government looks forward to many constructive steps in reviewing and confronting successfully the many problems of human environment.

In conclusion, let me assure you, Madam President, and the members of this Assembly that we, the Government and people of Maldives, are always firm in our faith in the principles of the Charter of this Organization. We extend our humble support to all those statesmen who work for the betterment of mankind. We join with those who pray for peace and harmony in our disturbed world, and to those of us who are assembled here we say: let us resolve once again to make the world community one which could fittingly be called a community of united nations.