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Kenny bid to make ally of Obama on our bailout

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny will today attempt to make US President Barack Obama an ally in our drive to improve the terms of the IMF/EU bailout.

Mr Obama arrives in Dublin early today on a 24-hour visit. It includes a journey to his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, and an address to a crowd of 25,000 on College Green, Dublin.

Up to 10,000 gardai and soldiers, along with members of the US Secret Service, will protect the most powerful man in the world after weeks of intense security planning.

Mr Kenny will meet with Mr Obama in Farmleigh House, with our economic recovery high on the agenda.

The Taoiseach will not ask Mr Obama to directly intervene on the country's behalf in negotiations with other EU countries on the proposed cut in Ireland's bailout rate.

But he will explain Ireland's position on the bailout and why the Government is seeking a lower interest rate and flexibility on the terms applying.

However, it is unlikely Mr Kenny will bring up a claim that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner vetoed the previous government's attempt to force a ¿30bn haircut on unguaranteed bondholders.

After Ireland, Mr Obama will also be in Britain, France and Poland this week.

Mr Obama will meet with several EU leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the week at the summit of G8 leaders.

The Government is hopeful if the broad subject of bailouts comes up during Mr Obama's later meetings on the continent, then the president will know the exact Irish position -- rather than being guided by the views of others.


"We will explain our stance, so he understands our position and there is no ambiguity. It is important that he does not go away with a skewed view," a government source told the Irish Independent.

It was not clear if the plight of the undocumented Irish emigrants in the US would be brought up by the Government. Some coalition sources said it would be on the agenda for the 45-minute meeting.

However, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's spokesperson was unable to say if the Foreign Affairs Minister would bring it up.

The spokesperson would only say the meeting would cover "issues of bilateral interest".

The Government's stance on reforms to US immigration laws is not to ask for a special exemption for Ireland as it would be an unrealistic demand.

The status of the talks between Mr Obama, Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore was upgraded to a bilateral meeting last night, meaning a wider variety of issues can be discussed.