McAleese: Russian leader 'keen to attend GAA match'
RUSSIAN President Dmitry Medvedev is "very taken" with the idea of a visit to Ireland and would be keen to attend a GAA match if he came here, President Mary McAleese revealed yesterday.
Speaking at the first official meeting between both heads of state, Mrs McAleese said she had also promised to send him DVDs of football and hurling.
"I extended the invitation to President Medvedev and his wife (Svetlana) to come to Ireland," she said.
"First of all he didn't say no, and he was very taken with the idea.
"I think we managed to persuade him that hurling and gaelic football were well worth seeing," she added.
Mrs McAleese is on the third day of her state visit to the Russian Federation, and among the items discussed at the 30-minute meeting -- which was followed by lunch -- were trade between both nations and the development of business links, particularly in the hi-tech sectors.
"President Medvedev described today's meeting as a milestone event, an historic event for Irish and Russian relationships," Mrs McAleese said.
"At an economic level, the relationship is growing. We do about €2bn worth of business and while that took a bit of a dip during the really bad year it has shown a remarkable capacity to rebound which is indicative of the growing strength of the Russian economy."
Mrs McAleese also said that firms considering expanding abroad could be reassured there was plenty of help from state agencies and local business networks.
"There are opportunities in many parts of the world. It's our job to get out there," she added.
The Russian premier said he hoped the visit would be "fruitful".
"This is the first visit by the head of state since the establishment of our official relations," Mr Medvedev said.
"This is a fully-fledged state visit and I am happy to discuss our business. I hope your visit will be fruitful," he added.