President McAleese begins trade mission to Russia

President Mary McAleese today begins a four-day official visit to Russia to build business links with the country.

During her trip to Moscow and St Petersburg the President and junior minister Billy Kelleher will lead a trade delegation of 30 Irish companies and agencies.

She will also hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin on Thursday.

After arriving this evening Ms McAleese will make a courtesy call on the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, before addressing an Enterprise Ireland dinner and a business network breakfast the following morning.

Tomorrow the President, who will be accompanied by her husband Dr Martin McAleese, will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

She will also address a Russia-Ireland Forum on Nanotechnology, meet His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church and attend a performance of traditional Irish music and dance hosted by the Irish Ambassador, Philip McDonagh.

Ms McAleese will delivers an address, Ireland and Russia in the 21st Century, at the Diplomatic Academy of Foreign Affairs on Thursday before travelling to St Petersburg to visit the Memorial to the Siege of Leningrad.

Among engagements on Friday are a lunch hosted by Governor of St Petersburg Valentina Matvienko and a visit to the State Heritage Museum where she will attend a performance of Irish music and dance to celebrate the cultural links between Ireland and Russia.

Before leaving for Dublin on Saturday she will visit Catherine Palace.

Representatives of firms, mainly involved in IT, business services, engineering, construction, food and drink and education, will spend time this week meeting existing and potential customers and partners.

Another event will give higher education chiefs a chance to build contacts with Russian colleges through Education Ireland.

The trade mission was organised by Enterprise Ireland.

According to the Government, Russia is Europe’s largest emerging market and Irish exports to the country grew by over 66% in the first five months of this year.

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