EAST Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta will travel to Lismore for a surprise visit next week.

Dr Ramos-Horta’s office yesterday confirmed the Nobel Laureate was expected to visit the city next week to receive an honorary doctorate from Southern Cross University.

The Federal Government was yesterday yet to announce Dr Ramos-Horta’s visit to Australia, but a spokesman for the President said he would be in Lismore next Thursday as part of a six-day visit to Australia.

The visit would centre around the honorary doctorate, but would include a brief catch-up with Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin, who worked for Dr Ramos-Horta as an advisor while he was East Timor’s Foreign Minister, Prime Minister, and after he was voted in as President.

A spokeswoman for the university said Dr Ramos-Horta would be given the Award of Honorary Doctor of Southern Cross University ‘in recognition of his significant contribution to international human rights issues, education, and Timor Leste’.

Dr Ramos-Horta’s spokesman said the President was also planning a stop at Caddies cafe for a ‘kafe Timor’.

The rest of the visit to Australia would be taken up with meetings with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Governor-General Quentin Bryce and visits to Timorese communities.

Ms Saffin, who invited the president to Lismore and will officially receive him, said it was a privilege to have him visit.

Richmond River Historical Society secretary Geoff Foley said he was not aware of another time Lismore had hosted the head of state of another country.

However, Mr Foley said Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had once been a fairly regular, if informal, visitor to Lismore.

Sir Michael’s son had gone to Woodlawn College near Lismore and the Prime Minister made regular trips to the city to visit him.

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