IRISH president Michael D Higgins has hailed plans for an historic handshake between the Queen and Martin McGuinness.
Mr Higgins will also attend the event where the long-awaited encounter is set to take place in Belfast on Wednesday.
The charity Co-operation Ireland is hosting a celebration of culture on the island of Ireland in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre and the venue will provide the stage for the first meeting between Sinn Fein and the Queen.
Mr Higgins said: “I accepted the invitation on the basis that it would be an inclusive occasion.”
The historic handshake is expected to take place in private before the VIP guests join others at the event.
Mr Higgins said the plan to hold the meeting against the backdrop of a celebration of the arts was in keeping with a speech he gave in Londonderry shortly after becoming head of state.
The president, who took office after the Queen’s historic visit to Ireland last year, said he could make a return state visit to Britain in 2013.