Thursday, March 17, 2011

President Barack Obama chose St. Patrick's Day to announce that he's adding Ireland to the itinerary for his trip to Europe in May.

Obama made the announcement as he welcomed new Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the White House for an annual ceremony of Irish-American solidarity.

He joked that Vice President Joe Biden was "envious because he wants to go first."

Obama and Biden, both in green ties, spoke about the strong bonds between the two countries.

The president said Ireland is "bouncing back" from its economic crisis and that Kenny had shared his economic recovery plans with Obama.

Kenny said Ireland was "open for business" and that Obama's plans to visit represent "a significant statement of confidence" in the country.

Obama already had announced plans to make a state visit to Britain from May 24-26, just ahead of the G-8 summit in France.

Kenny invited Obama to play golf with him in Ireland. But the president sized Kenny up as a "pretty good golfer" and said he'd need to do some practicing before playing with him.

The prime minister began his day with breakfast at the vice president's residence.

Kenny, who took office last week, also was meeting with congressional leaders and potential business investors during his two-day visit to Washington.


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