Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I didn't mean to leave Trump waiting on phone', says Varadkar

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it was never his intention to leave US President Donald Trump hanging on the phone for 90 seconds.

Mr Trump was filmed by journalists at his desk in the Oval Office waiting for the new Taoiseach to pick up his scheduled call yesterday.

The President was phoning Mr Varadkar to congratulate him on his “great victory” in becoming Ireland’s youngest ever leader.

Asked by today what led to the delay, Mr Varadkar laughed: “There’s no significance to the 90 second delay. That was just a delay in putting the call through to me. I’ve seen some of the coverage of that but there’s no particular significance.”

Despite some criticism from Opposition TDs, the Taoiseach said he was “very happy” to take the call which lasted about 15 minutes.

“He congratulated me on my election as Taoiseach and renewed the long-standing invitation for the Taoiseach to visit the White House in March and I accepted that,” Mr Varadkar said.

“We also talked about the border. He was very interested in Brexit, very interested in the consequences for Ireland.

“We had a brief discussion on a number of topics, including free trade where I emphasised Ireland’s commitment to free trade. We mentioned migration as well.”

The Taoiseach added that he raised the issue of estimated 50,000 Irish citizens who are living illegally in the United States and Mr Trump’s attitude to climate change.

“It was a relatively short call, only about 15 minutes long. I think it allowed us to set out an agenda for the type of things we’ll discuss in March,” Mr Varadkar said.

During last year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities in Washington former Taoiseach Enda Kenny invited Mr Trump to visit Ireland but Mr Varadkar said the idea never came up during their discussions.

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