Belfast Telegraph

President Donald Trump hints he is Ireland bound

By Jason O'Brien and Philip Ryan in Washington DC

President Trump has said he may visit Ireland next year - before he starts his campaign for re-election.

Mr Trump was speaking in the Oval Office alongside Leo Varadkar ahead of a 40-minute bilateral meeting between the US and Ireland.

"I will, I love it, I have property there and I may never get to see it again," Mr Trump said about a possible trip to Ireland.

He was asked if he would play golf in Ireland, before asking the Taoiseach if he plays golf.

"No, but I'm always willing to learn so we can take you for a few rounds," Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach told President Trump he would be visiting his home city of New York tomorrow for the St Patrick’s Day parade.

He also told the President he previously visited the White House when he worked as a congressional intern in Washington.

Mr Trump and Mr Varadkar are to spend approximately 40 minutes together, engaging on a range of issues including trade, the undocumented Irish, and the future role of Ireland as an ally of the US in Europe as Brexit looms.

The Taoiseach will be joined by John Deasy - the Government's special envoy to the US - who will detail proposals for a reciprocal arrangement between the two countries on immigration reform.

Others expected to attend include secretary general Martin Fraser, Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, the US president’s chief of staff John Kelly and budget director Mick Mulvaney. Vice President Mike Pence is not expected to be in the room.

The meeting is the first official engagement of a busy day of styled as the Washington DC St Patrick’s Day programme.

Next up is a visit to Capitol Hill where Mr Varadkar and Mr Trump will have a lunch, hosted by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

This afternoon Taoiseach will also hold a series of private meetings with leading US politicians, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

And, later this evening, the Irish delegation will return to the White House for the St Patrick’s Day reception, which includes the traditional handing over of the bowl of shamrock to the US President.

Mr Trump will spend most of the day with the Taoiseach at the end of yet another eventful week in his White House – including the sacking of his secretary of state, a visit to California to view samples for his infamous border wall plan, and a hard fought special House election.

Among the dignitaries expected at the Shamrock Ceremony are Central Bank governor Hugh Lane, the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Irish Independent

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