President Tan on state visits to Italy and Vatican City

Tony Tan Keng Yam, the President of Singapore.
Tony Tan Keng Yam, the President of Singapore.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will arrive in Rome today for state visits to Italy and Vatican City that are a first by a Singapore head of state.

Pope Francis is among the leaders he will meet during his eight-day visit to both places.

The visits are expected to showcase the growing relations between Singapore and Italy in a range of sectors, including trade, education, culture, design and research, as well as the longstanding ties with the Holy See, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement yesterday.

While in Rome, Dr Tan will meet his counterpart, President Sergio Mattarella, who will host a state banquet in his honour after a ceremonial welcome at the 16th-century Palazzo del Quirinale, an official residence of the Italian President.

He will also meet Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Senate president Pietro Grasso, and Commissioner of Rome Francesco Tronca.

Dr Tan will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tribute to soldiers who died in World War I, and visit Sapienza University, Europe's largest university in terms of enrolment.

The President's visit to Vatican City will highlight its 35-year diplomatic ties with Singapore.

While at the Holy See, Dr Tan will meet the Pope. He will also meet Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who visited Singapore last August.

Dr Tan will receive a ceremonial welcome and tour the city's well-known landmarks, such as St Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Also on Dr Tan's itinerary is a day at the 15th Architecture Biennale in Venice, where he will officially open the Singapore Pavilion.

Accompanying him on the trip is his wife Mary, as well as Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport Josephine Teo, and MPs Saktiandi Supaat and Cheng Li Hui.

About 20 businessmen, led by International Enterprise Singapore, will be in Italy during the President's state visit.

The chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr J.Y. Pillay, will act as President while Dr Tan is away.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'President Tan on state visits to Italy and Vatican City'. Print Edition | Subscribe