Leo Varadkar speaks Irish in the White House as he praises Biden for help on Brexit and Ukraine
Leo Varadkar told US president his upcoming visit to Ireland would be ‘like no other’
Irish was spoken in the Oval Office for the first time as Leo Varadkar used our first national language at his meeting with US President Joe Biden.
The Taoiseach thanked President Biden for the USA’s help over Brexit over the last seven years, for its support of Ukraine, and also referred to excitement in Ireland over his forthcoming visit. He said people were already looking forward to his arrival and there would be large crowds. “We would love to see you,” he said.
"I really want to thank you for your help and support and understanding for our position on Brexit in recent years, it really made a difference and we've got to a good place now, I think, with the Windsor Framework, where we can have an agreement that lasts which is important for Northern Ireland, and also important for British, Irish and European relations," Mr Varadkar said.
President Biden spoke in a low voice and said Ireland had always been a good friend of the United States. He then quoted WB Yeats: “Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”
But there was no further information from the president as to where he would go and what he would do on his Irish trip next month as the press opportunity lasted only two minutes.
President Biden appeared low-key in attitude, after returning from San Diego earlier this week where he had hosted British prime minister Rishi Sunak.
Speaking in Irish following President Biden’s remarks, the Taoiseach said: "Tá áthas orm bheith anseo sa Teach Bán, agus táimíd buioch duit a Uachtaráin don tacaoícht maidir le Brexit, agus do ceannaireacht maidir leis an cogadh in Ukráin.
“Tá mé ag tnúth le do cúirt mór go hÉireann. Beidh sé cuirt den scoth, geallaim.”
Mr Varadkar’s use of Irish included a reference to “an cogadh in Ukráin” with praise for the leadership of the United States in response to the Russian invasion over a year ago.
The Taoiseach also hailed Mr Biden's role in supporting Ukraine.
"America is at its best when it stands with its European partners to defend freedom and democracy," he said.
"Thank you for that. I know you'll stay the course for us, with us, and we'll stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes."
Both men, clad in green ties, referred to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which falls on April 10 next.
The Taoiseach told a nodding president that his tour in Ireland would be “a visit like no other".
"I promise you that we're going to roll out the red carpet and it's going to be a visit like no other," he said.
"Everyone's excited about it . We're going to have great crowds who'd love to see you."
The brief remarks and questions lasted only two minutes before aides and staffers ushered the press out of the office.
The Taoiseach ignored a shouted question, "what were you thinking about your comments on interns?" as he left the Oval Office following his meeting with President Biden.
There were no further comments or questions to throw further light on President Biden’s programme in Ireland in what is expected to be a five-day visit, with up to three days in the West of Ireland.
Full remarks by US president Joe Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office
"It’s good to have you back in the Oval Office, Taoiseach. It’s a big day in my grandparents' household, our household, big day here. And I know a bigger day at home. But thank you very much.
(After quoting Yates) "We’ve been great friends. You’ve been a great friend to the United States, and Ireland and the United States share great friendship and long, long traditions.
"We have a joke – we have an event I used to do as vice president and is now done up at the Hill, which is we invite all the friends of Ireland, all the Irish members of Congress, and those who wish they were.
“I want to thank you on a substantive matter for standing together with Ukraine. It means a great deal, speaking out against Russian aggression, and our deepening economic ties. We have a lot to talk about.
"I spent some time with the Prime Minister of Great Britain. And I'm very much, very strongly supportive of the Windsor Framework, which I know you do, too. Maybe we'll get a chance to talk about that. And, for us, the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is something that a very good friend of mine devoted a lot of his life to, George Mitchell… So I’m looking forward to meeting you and having our celebration together, and, lot to talk about.”
"Tá áthas orm bheith anseo sa Teach Bán, agus táimíd buioch duit a Uachtaráin don tacaoícht maidir le Brexit, agus do ceannaireacht maidir leis an cogadh in Ukráin.
“Tá mé ag tnúth le do cúirt mór go hÉireann. Beidh sé cuirt den scoth, geallaim.
“So first of all, thanks so much for inviting me to be here. I really appreciate the invitation. I really want to thank you for your help and support and understanding for our position on Brexit in recent years. It really made a difference. And we've got to a good place now, I think, with the Windsor Framework where we can have an agreement that lasts, which is important for Northern Ireland, and also important for British-Irish and European relations.
“I really profoundly want to thank you and America for your leadership in relation to Ukraine. I never thought we'd see a war like this happen in Europe in my lifetime. America is at its best when it stands with its European partners to defend freedom and democracy. And thank you for that, and I know you're staying the course with us, and we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
“And also really looking forward to your visit. I promise you that we're going to roll out the red carpet and it's going to be a visit like no other. Everyone's excited about it already. We're going to have great crowds who would love to see you, and look forward to walking about some of the details a bit later.”
"I look forward to that.”
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