President Obama confirms Irish visit for May
Huge boost seen for U.S. Ireland relationship
President Barack Obama has confirmed that he intends to visit Ireland this May. Speaking from the Oval Office, during Prime Minister Enda Kenny's St. Patrick's Day visit, Obama discussed the bond between the nations.
He said "There is just an incredible bond between our two countries…And that's one that we want to reaffirm here today."
Obama said he had an "excellent conversation" with Kenny about how Ireland will bounce back from its severe economic problems.
Kenny is visiting Washington for the traditional St. Patrick's Day presentation of the shamrock at the White House.
He continued "Overall, the state of the relationship of our two countries is extraordinarily strong. This is a wonderful tradition ... St. Patrick's Day, for me to be able to once again reaffirm the great warmth and affection that have towards the people in Ireland."
During his trip in May Obama plans to visit the usual tourist sites and also seek out the roots of his "great, great, great, great, great grandfather." Obama said he will visit Moneygall in county Offaly where his direct descendant Fulmouth Kearney left from.
As the president confirmed his support and his upcoming trip to Ireland Kenny responded "Ireland is open for business".
Obama also thanked Kenny for Ireland's help with efforts in Afghanistan and for its work on issues such as international food security.
Kenny started his St. Patrick's Day in Washington with breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden.
Last night he attended the annual gala dinner of the American Ireland Fund and addressed around 1,000 guests. Kenny said Ireland was "far from finished" and that the Irish General Election marked a new dawn for Ireland.
The American Ireland Fund aims to raise $100 million for Irish charities by the end of 2013.
The Prime Minister also met with the U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday to discuss the global economic situation. Kenny reiterated his Government's aim to reduce the budget deficit and reform of the banking system.
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