President Trump speaking with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today. RTE Twitter photo.
By Irish Echo Staff
President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke for the first time Tuesday by phone.
And the president invited the new Irish government leader to the traditional White House reception next St. Patrick’s Day.
Mr. Trump also congratulated the taoiseach on his recent "great victory".
Mr. Trump stated: "Congratulations on your great victory. We have so many people from Ireland in this country. I know so many of them, I feel I know all of them.
"But I just wanted to congratulate you; that was a great victory that you had.”
The call, according to RTE, lasted ten to fifteen minutes and was described by a spokesperson for Mr. Varadkar as "a wide-ranging call" which was "fruitful.”
The spokesperson, added the report, said the issue of a visit by Mr. Trump to Ireland was not discussed but that both men had agreed that the next time they would see each other would be in the White House next March.
Mr. Varadkar raised the case of the undocumented Irish in the U.S. and there was a discussion on climate change and trade.
Mr. Trump was interested in discussing the peace process and the border post-Brexit, the taoiseach's spokesperson said.
National Security Adviser HR McMaster and Deputy National Security Adviser, Dina Powell, were in the Oval Office for the phone call.
During the exchange, Mr. Trump said that there was Irish press in the White House and called over RTÉ's Washington Correspondent, Caitríona Perry, to say hello to the taoiseach.
The Irish Independent reported that no press was in attendance at the Irish end of the call.
The call took place at 11.15 a.m. in Washington, 4.15 p.m. in Dublin.
Mr. Varadkar’s predecessor, Enda Kenny, invited President Trump to visit Ireland during his White House St. Patrick’s Day visit in March of this year.
Mr. Varadkar had, prior to that, indicated his antipathy to such a visit
Mr. Varadkar told RTE last February, that he “wouldn’t be keen” on inviting Donald Trump to visit Ireland.
However, when asked in the Dáil last week if he would rescind Mr. Kenny’s invitation, Mr. Varadkar said he would not.
“I will not, of course, rescind that invitation,” he said, adding that to do so would be “inappropriate” and would create a “diplomatic incident.”
Added the taoiseach: “I assure the deputy that in any dealings I have with the American government and in the interactions and engagement I have with the chargé d’affaires who is here and who is acting U.S. ambassador to Ireland, I will approach them based on the long-standing friendship that exists between our countries and the familial, cultural and economic links but I will never shirk from raising issues such as climate change.”
Mr. Varadkar said that he will raise issues such as climate change, LGBT rights, and immigrant rights on a future U.S. visit.
“I will absolutely include in those meetings discussions of the issues…whether it is climate change, human rights, LGBT rights, and the need to respect Muslim people, whether they are citizens of our country, or another country.”
Mr. Varadkar will have his chance next March and before then if President Trump visits Ireland. As of yet, however, there has been no transatlantic discussion on such a presidential visit and there was no talk about such a visit during Tuesday’s phone exchange.