The President of East Timor has called on Ireland to continue its support for the country despite the economic circumstances here.

Nobel Prize Winner José Ramos-Horta made the comments during his first official visit to Ireland since he was elected President of East Timor in 2007.

Dr Ramos-Horta was one of the central figures in East Timor’s battle for independence.

The country was granted independence from Indonesia in 2002 after 24 years of occupation.

But years of violence resulted in thousands of deaths and left the country in ruin.

Ireland has always had close ties to East Timor and since 2003 the State has donated €30 million in aid to the country.

President Jose Horta said he wanted Ireland to continue to make East Timor a priority country for foreign aid.

Tom Hyland, a former Dublin Bus Driver and now Honorary Consul of Timor Leste to Ireland, said the country is now stable but still needs international assistance to help combat poverty.

As part of his visit the President also met with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by UCD.