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Ireland's president making state visit to Britain this week; 1st since Irish independence

Ireland's head of state makes his country's first state visit to Britain this week, providing another poignant milestone for peacemaking.

President Michael D. Higgins is flying to England Monday ahead of his formal reception Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. The four-day visit comes three years after the queen's first state visit to the Republic of Ireland.

The two countries maintained frosty relations for decades following Ireland's 1919-1921 war of independence from the United Kingdom. State visits were deemed impossible during the Irish Republican Army's 1970-1997 campaign of bombings and shootings seeking to wrest Northern Ireland from the U.K.

Irish presidents have met the British monarch many times since the early 1990s, but this is Ireland's first state visit to Britain since independence.