President arrives in Finland on a two-day visit

President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday arrived here on a two-day visit after completing his maiden visit to Norway.

Helsinki: President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday arrived here on a two-day visit after completing his maiden visit to Norway.

Mukherjee was received by Secretary of State Peter Stenlund at the airport.

In the second leg of his tour, Mukherjee will visit Santa Claus village, making him the first Indian Head of State to ever cross the Arctic Circle.

During the two-day trip to Finland, a number of agreements and Memorandum of Understandings will be signed between the two sides. The President, among other high-level meetings, will attend a lunch hosted by Mayor of Helsinki.

"There will be meetings of the business delegation and the Indian community. There will be a visit to the Parliament of Finland where he meets the Speaker and other Parliamentarians. He will also lay a wreath at the Hietaniemi Cemetery which is a national monument for people who lost their lives in the wars," Secretary West Navtej Sarna said.

The President would also visit Rovaniemi town which is across the Arctic Circle and is known as official Santa Claus village.

"This is an actual village. There is a Santa Claus post office, there is a Santa Claus house and various things," he said.

He said Finland has been very supportive of India on the Nuclear Suppliers Group issue, in the IAEA, on UN Security Council reforms, as well as for India's entry into the Arctic Council.

The two countries hope to sign a number of agreements covering education, energy, fishing etc on government-to- government, business-to-business as well as institution-to-institution level.

"Finland is also one of the countries which has already been listed for waiver of diplomatic official passport holders for visa purposes," he said.

It will be the first visit by an Indian President to Finland in 26 years. Late President R Venkataraman had visited the country in 1988.

Mukherjee had travelled to Finland as Commerce Minister in 1993.

In Helsinki, the President will address a business seminar and will also visit 'Arktikum' museum and Arctic Science Centre.

Mukherjee will be accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Union Minister P Radhakrishnan, senior officials and senior representatives of educational and academic institutions and the business community.

The President returns to India on October 17.

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