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16th Mar 2018

Trump and Varadkar “fast friends” following annual shamrock handover in White House

Kate Demolder

The two met on Thursday as part of the Taoiseach’s St Patrick’s Day visit to the States.

US President Donald Trump claims he is now “fast friends” with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, despite only having met him for the first time on Thursday.

Both political figures met at the the traditional handover of the shamrock at the White House on Thursday afternoon, where President Trump said he looked forward to the Taoiseach’s return next year and “for seven more years” after that, indicating his intent on seeking re-election.

The Taoiseach used his time in the Oval Office to once again highlight the plight of the undocumented Irish, explaining the mutual benefits of a set of potentially reciprocal rights that would also affect American citizens who wish to live in Ireland.

He added that, regarding this issue, the government is ready to do a deal.

According to RTÉ, Trump told reporters that he believes the Taoiseach is “doing a great job” as he greeted him outside the White House ahead of the traditional shamrock bowl presentation.

The American president said he would like to visit Ireland soon saying he has a property there that he “may never get to see again.”

Following a 40-minute discussion on the border, Northern Ireland, trade, military and cyber issues, Trump finished the conversation by saying it was his honour to have the “very popular Prime Minister of Ireland” visit him.

Mr Varadkar met Mr Trump as part of a traditional programme of events ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

The final leg of his journey brings the Taoiseach to New York on Friday.

There he will visit Manhattan, engaging with the media company, Bloomberg, and visiting the new Irish Arts Centre before meeting the representatives of the main Irish immigrant centres.

He will speak at a reception for the Irish community in New York and announce the launch of the New York Washington Ireland Program.

The visit concludes on Saturday, 17 March where Varadkar will meet with Mayor Bill de Blasio, attend the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral mass and finally walk in the Fifth Avenue parade.

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