Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

President sets off on foreign tour

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is to visit three Central American countries.

President Michael D Higgins kicks off an official visit to three countries in central America today.

With engagements in Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Mr Higgins' trip will include business and trade, culture and the arts and development issues.

The President will also pay his respects to those who died in the conflict in El Salvador in the 1980s and he will be honoured for his work promoting human rights issues in the country at the time.

Among other events in the 12 day trip will be a visit to San Salvador Cathedral and the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated as he said mass in 1980.

The President will be accompanied by his wife Sabina and Joe Costello, Trade and Development minister in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

On Sunday he begins the trip by laying a wreath at the memorial to the Batallon de San Patricio in Plaza San Angel in Mexico City - a unit of emigrant soldiers who fought for Mexico against the US from 1846 to 1848.

The following day a second wreath laying ceremony will take place at the Altar of the Nation in Chapultepec Park before a meeting with the president of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto.

On Tuesday Mr Higgins will attend a business breakfast hosted by Enterprise Ireland and make a keynote address at the Mexico business summit in Guadalajara.

He will attend the Camerata Ireland concert later that day at the Centro Nacional de las Artes back in Mexico City.

The visit to El Salvador begins on Thursday when President Higgins is presented with the Keys of the City by the acting Mayor of San Salvador, Ms Gloria Calderon Sol de Onate.

He will meet the p resident of El Salvador Mauricio Funes and be honoured with the Jose Matias Delgado state award and later a ddress the Salvadoran National Assembly.

President Higgins will visit the Universidad Centroamericana and the chapel in which six Jesuits, murdered in the university in November 1989 with two female co-workers, are interred.

He will also be presented with an award by the rector of Universidad Centroamericana in recognition of his work for human rights from the 1980s.

The El Salvador leg winds up with a visit to the Cuscatlan Park to view the Monument to Memory and Truth commemorating all those who lost their lives during the country's wars of the 1980s.

President Higgins will meet with representatives of Salvadoran civil society organisations whose work on issues such as reconciliation, social inclusion and development has been support by Trocaire and the Irish Government.

In Costa Rica he will meet president Laura Chinchilla and attend a round table meeting with El Estado de la Nacion, a think tank supported by local universities that focuses on themes related to sustainable development.

President Higgins will also make an address on human rights.

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