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Japan's emperor visits Ireland, Norway

May 8, 2005 at 9:44 PM

DUBLIN, Ireland, May 8 (UPI) -- Ireland's prime minister paid a courtesy call on Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan when the royal couple arrived in Dublin.

The emperor and empress are on an eight-day trip to Ireland and Norway, their first overseas visit in three years. Kyodo News Service reports that the aim of the trip is to build commercial and cultural ties between Japan and the two European countries and to mark the centenary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Norway.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern called on the emperor and empress Saturday night. They are also expected to meet President Mary McAleese and, in Norway, to attend a banquet hosted by Crown Prince Haakon, standing in for his sick father, King Harald.

But the trip also includes visits with Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and Norwegian novelist Jostein Gaarder and an overnight sightseeing visit to Trondheim, Norway's medieval capital.

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