Barack Obama made a St Patrick’s Day pledge that America will remain “as supportive as possible in advancing the Northern Ireland peace process”.
However, the US President was more cagey when asked by a reporter if he would be visiting Ireland.
Speaking yesterday after Taoiseach Brian Cowen presented the President with the traditional bowl of shamrocks at a White House ceremony, Mr Obama simply replied: “I would love to be going to Ireland.”
Later, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness did the rounds in Washington, talking up recent political advances during a series of meetings with American politicians and business leaders.
After attending a breakfast hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau at the US Chamber of Commerce, the First and Deputy First Ministers headed to the White House. Unlike previous years, yesterday’s event was a formal meeting at which Obama was present throughout.
Afterwards Mr Robinson said that the President had “outlined his support for the transfer of policing and justice powers and discussed his government’s continued involvement in the economic development of Northern Ireland”.
Mr McGuinness added: “The Obama administration has always provided us with its full backing as we worked towards building a stable political foundation in the North of Ireland, and on that foundation we intend to fashion further economic and social progress.”