President Tony Tan Keng Yam begins state visits to Italy and Vatican City

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will begin his state visit to Italy on May 22, 2016, a first by a Singapore head of state.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam will begin his state visit to Italy on May 22, 2016, a first by a Singapore head of state.PHOTO: ST FILE

ROME - President Tony Tan Keng Yam will arrive in Rome on Sunday (May 22) for a state visit to Italy and the Vatican City that is 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 (MFA) in a statement on Saturday.

 

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, President of the Senate Pietro Grasso, and the 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 the First World War, and visit Sapienza University, Europe's largest university in terms of enrolment.

The President's visit to the 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. He 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 and 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 state visit.

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