POTUS introduced Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar by saying "we have become fast friends" and by calling Varadkar "a very popular man".
This morning, POTUS is holding the traditional St Patrick’s Day meeting and bilateral talks with Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The pool was in the Oval Office for 15 minutes, with a sizable contingent of Irish journalists, many of whom, like Trump, Sarah Sanders, and John Bolton, wore at least a little bit of green. Larry Kudlow appeared to have forgotten the dress code for the day,
Varadkar spoke twice. POTUS introduced him by saying “we have become fast friends” and by calling Varadkar “a very popular man”.
Varadkar: “Thanks very much for meeting us again. It’s an enormous pleasure for Ireland, a small country, to have this annual meeting on account of St. Patrick’s Day and to have a chance to make even closer and tighter the bonds between the United States and Ireland. I particularly want to thank you for your help with Aughinish, the plant in the West of Ireland where hundreds of jobs were threatened as a result of the Russian sanctions. With the help of the administration we were able to save those jobs. So thank you very much for that.”
Trump, pointing to the press: “They don’t know about that.”
Varadkar: “So thank you very much for that. I look forward to talking to you today about Brexit and giving you our perspective on it I really look forward to talking to you about the Good Friday agreement. I look forward to talking to you about immigration as well, and also about trade and how much I would like to see a trade deal done between the US and the EU. We’ve done one with Japan, we’ve done one with Canada…”
At this point, Trump cut Varadkar off.
After eight minutes, POTUS again prompted Varadkar to speak, about Brexit this time:
Varadkar: “We have a different opinion, President. I regret that Brexit’s happening and the UK was a really important part of the European Union. But they’re going now and that’s their decision. But the most important thing for us in Ireland is that their decision to leave shouldn’t cause any problems in Northern Ireland where people actually voted to stay and that we shouldn’t have a hard border or anything to disrupt the peace process. And also we want to make sure we still have frictionless trade between Britain and Ireland because I believe in free trade. I think it’ll be a few years until the UK sorts itself out, but in the meantime, the EU is available to talk trade with the US.”
Background info courtesy of the Irish delegation:
Delegation with the Taoiseach will be:
Ambassador Dan Mulhall
Martin Fraser, Secretary General to the Government
Brian Murphy, Chief of Staff to Taoiseach
Helen Blake, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach
Dominick Miller, Irish Government Press Secretary
Philip O’Callaghan, Special Advisor to the Taoiseach
John Deasy TD, Special Envoy to US Congress
Michael Lonergan, Deputy Chief of Mission US Embassy
Following his meeting with President Trump, the Taoiseach will be hosted for lunch at the Capitol by Speaker Pelosi.
Later today, President Trump will host a reception at the White House for the traditional St Patrick’s Day Shamrock Ceremony.
This evening, Ambassador Mulhall will host a reception in honor of the Taoiseach’s visit to Washington DC for St. Patrick’s Day.
The Taoiseach’s visit continues a St Patrick’s Day tradition dating back to 1959.