Obama invites Kenny to White House
Published 11/03/2011 | 18:52
US president Barack Obama has personally invited new Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the White House for the St Patrick's Day celebrations.
Mr Obama placed a seven-minute planned telephone call to Mr Kenny and congratulated him on his election victory, a Government spokesman said.
The Taoiseach was in Brussels attending his first summit of EU heads of state since taking office, with Libya and the Eurozone crisis dominating proceedings.
Mr Kenny told the president that he was in Denver for his acceptance of the Democratic nomination in 2008, as well as reminding him of the standing invitation to visit Ireland.
Mr Obama spoke of the amount of Irish people on his White House staff.
Mr Kenny is due to hold meetings with senior figures from both the administration and Congress during his Washington DC visit, including vice-president Joe Biden and House speaker John Boehner.
The Taoiseach announced a scaled-down exodus of Cabinet members overseas for St Patrick's Day celebrations, with nine travelling abroad to France, Italy, the UK, Germany, the US, India, New Zealand and Australia.
During the Fianna Fail-led administration last year 22 Government representatives travelled to 24 countries.
The Taoiseach said building Ireland's reputation abroad was one of the key objectives of the coalition's first 100 days in office, with the visits being used to promote Ireland as a trading and business hub.
"We will do this effectively, but in a way that ensures value for money," he said.