WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Tuesday he is extending the St. Patrick’s Day celebration by hosting Ireland’s prime minister at the White House.
Obama and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny wore shamrocks in their jacket pockets as they met in the Oval Office. Obama praised Kenny’s leadership through difficult economic times and said improvements in their economy helps in trade with the United States.
Obama noted that Irish airline Ryanair announced in the hours before their meeting that it is buying 175 Boeing aircraft.
“It’s an example how the progress made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the United States,” Obama said.
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,” Obama said.
Obama planned to meet later with the joint British Protestant and Irish Catholic leaders of Northern Ireland’s unity government, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.
The Obamas will host an evening reception where the president will receive a bowl of shamrocks from Kenny. It’s a tradition started under President Harry Truman.
The events are taking place Tuesday because St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Sunday this year.
Obama leaves Tuesday evening for a trip to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.