08 February 2009

East Timorese President Horta to visit Australia

Canberra Times (Australia) February 6, 2009 Friday Emma Macdonald East Timor President Jose Ramos- Horta will arrive in Canberra next Tuesday on his first official state visit to Australia, a year on from his attempted assassination.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will address the National Press Club on Wednesday the anniversary of his shooting by anti- government rebels led by Alfredo Reinado.

Ironically, the assassination attempt came just a week before the President was due to travel to Australia for a state visit last year instead he spent more than a month in the Royal Darwin Hospital undergoing surgery to remove two bullets from his back.

He has since joked that he "feels" Australian because of the enormous amount of Australian blood he received in transfusions including blood of Australian soldiers donated on the day.

Mr Ramos-Horta will spend five days in Australia where he will meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and attend a state dinner at Government House.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce visited East Timor in December, where she praised the close relationship between the two countries.

Issues the President is likely to discuss with Mr Rudd include East Timor's need for more Australian University and TAFE places particularly to assist the fledgling nation train doctors and teachers and for East Timor's inclusion in the Federal Government's guest worker scheme.

Mr Ramos-Horta is likely to visit the Australian War Memorial while in Canberra, and will also receive a visit from ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

He will travel to Victoria and NSW before flying out to New Zealand next Sunday.

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