The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and his wife Sabina today received His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malta, Dr George Vella, and his wife, Mrs Miriam Vella, at Áras an Uachtaráin. The event represented the official commencement of President Vella’s three-day State Visit to Ireland.
Following the ceremonial welcome a bilateral meeting took place between the two Heads of State. After the meeting, President Vella planted an Irish Oak tree in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin and rang the Peace Bell.
President Vella’s visit reciprocates the State Visit of President Higgins to Malta in May 2022.
The discussions between the two Presidents, in addition to current matters, continued themes discussed between the two Presidents during President Higgins’ State Visit to Malta, and again at the 2022 meeting of the Arraiolos Group of non-executive European Heads of State, which was hosted by President Vella in Malta last October.
Among the topics that the two Presidents discussed were:
- The current position in relation to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine and likely developments in the coming year and consequences;
- Migration, North Africa and the Sahel;
- Food Security following President Higgins’ recent attendance at the Dakar II summit in Senegal in January;
- Climate Change and the need to restore its centrality to the agenda;
- EU-UK relations in light of the most recent developments;
- Neutrality as an EU Member State given the neutral status of both Ireland and Malta;
- UN Security Council including Malta’s work to date and priorities as a member, particularly in relation to rising sea levels;
- Areas for future cooperation including in Culture and Higher Education and technological exchange.
President and Mrs Vella will return to Áras an Uachtaráin this evening for a State Dinner in their honour, to be hosted by the President and Sabina Higgins. Both Presidents are expected to speak at the State Dinner.
Tomorrow, Thursday, the President and Sabina will accompany President and Mrs Vella on their visit to Cork, where they will attend engagements at City Hall and at University College Cork.