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14.59 15 Mar 2018


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Updated: 15.40

US President Donald Trump said he intends to visit Ireland after a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Mr Trump said he wants to visit his property in Co Clare and may do so before the re-election campaign starts.

The two leaders talked about trade, immigration and other issues at the White House.

Donald Trump has said the Irish are truly wonderful people, and he wants to visit soon.

He said: "I will, I love it, I love it. I have property there and I may never get to see it again but I will tell.

Asked if he would play golf here, Mr Trump said: "I do play golf." The president asked Mr Varadkar: "You play golf, right?".

Mr Varadkar replied: "I don't but I'm always willing to learn - so you can take me for a few rounds".

Asked if he would visit the Northern Irish border, Mr Trump said: "Well that's an interesting border also - we have two interesting borders. One happens to be where you are right?

"It's going to be interesting to see what happens".

"It's my great honour to have the very popular Prime Minister of Ireland with us.

"We're having some good talks about trade and about military and about cyber and all of the other things that we're talking about.

"The relationship is outstanding, and only getting better.

And it really is a very special group of people.

"A tremendous number of Irish are living in New York where I grew up and they are living in the United States and these are truly wonderful people, we love them."

The Taoiseach talked with President Trump as part of the annual St Patrick’s Day meeting.

It marked Leo Varadkar’s first official state engagement with President Trump.

The Taoiseach was expected to use the opportunity to emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations and highlight the issues facing the undocumented Irish.

Mr Varadkar has said that trade and the potential for a trade war between the EU and the US would top the agenda.

"The way these meetings work - when it's two heads of governments meeting, or two ministers meeting - you have around 40 minutes,” he said.

“You have all the things that you really want to cover, and afterwards you always get asked 'did you mention this, did you raise that' - you can't cover everything.

"Very high on that list is going to be trade and the risk of a drift in relationships between America and the European Union."

He said he does not plan to raise the issue of Russia, but may bring up LGBT rights.

Yesterday, he confirmed plans to invite President Trump to visit Ireland – an invite already extended by his predecessor Enda Kenny. 

Following the meeting, Mr Varadkar will attend a lunch on Capitol Hill before the ceremonial bowl of shamrock exchange back in the White House.

In the past, he has pledged to use the US tour to raise LGBT rights – however, he may not do that today.

He will raise the issue with US Vice President Mike Pence tomorrow, although the media will be denied access to the remarks, which will be made after the meeting.

Reporting from Sean Defoe in Washington DC and Jack Quann


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