Europe

Irish PM Enda Kenny meets Barack Obama in Washington

Image caption Enda Kenny meets Barack Obama in Washington

President Barack Obama has hosted the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny at the White House.

Both wore shamrocks in their jacket pockets as they met in the Oval Office on Tuesday, two days after the official celebration which fell on Sunday.

Mr Obama praised Mr Kenny's leadership through difficult economic times and said improvements in their economy helped in trade with the United States.

Mr Kenny extended his invitation for Mr Obama to visit Ireland again.

Mr Obama also welcomed Ryanair's decision to buy more than a 100 aeroplanes from Boeing and said it "was an example how the progress made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the United States".

Mr Obama also said they would touch on progress being made toward reconciliation with Northern Ireland.

"There's a lot more work to be done before there's true unity in that country,'' Mr Obama said.

Following the meeting Mr Kenny told reporters that he had updated Mr Obama on behalf of the European Union about efforts to reach a free trade deal with the US, a priority that Mr Obama raised in his State of the Union address this year.

Shamrocks

Ireland currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

Kenny also said Obama was optimistic about prospects for a deal on immigration reform.

He said that it was an issue of importance to the Irish people, even though they make up a relatively small portion of U.S. immigrants.

"President Obama is very confident that the situation here can be dealt with in a reasonably short time.

"This is good news that we have welcomed very strongly," Mr Kenny added.

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