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Saturday 18 January 2020

Donald Trump congratulates Leo Varadkar on his 'great victory'

US president Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
US president Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

US President Donald Trump has congratulated Leo Varadkar on his “great victory” and invited him to the White House for next year’s St Patrick’s Day.

During an “introductory” phonecall this evening, Mr Trump said he looked forward to meeting the new Taoiseach in Washington next March.

However, understands that there was no mention of the invitation issued by Enda Kenny for Mr Trump to visit Ireland.

The President allowed members of the media to witness the first part of the call and photographs from the Oval Office show the US President seated behind the Resolute Desk while speaking to Mr Varadkar.

The call lasted just under 15 minutes with topics ranging from climate change to Brexit.

Sources say Mr Varadkar sought to put much of the focus on the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States.

The Taoiseach said many of the illegal Irish in the US had originally travelled on legitimate documentation but for a variety of reasons now needed to regularise their situation.

“He said the situation needs to be addressed,” a source said.

Mr Trump said: “We have so many people from Ireland in this country. I know so many of them, I feel I know all of them.”

The President asked for an update on the Northern Ireland peace process and the situation regarding border controls between the North and the Republic.

In reply Mr Varadkar said the border is currently now an issue socially or economically – but the future is uncertain because of Brexit.

There was a brief mention of Doonbeg, Co Clare where Mr Trump owns a luxury hotel and golf course. Mr Varadkar remarked that he understands it’s a “very good golf course”.

The Taoiseach also spoke to UK Prime Minister Theresa May this evening to discuss the ongoing talks aimed at restoring the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.

The phonecall was described as “a useful exchange of information” by both sides.

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