US president Joe Biden has said he very strongly supports the Windsor framework, the new post-Brexit legal agreement between the UK and the EU on Northern Ireland.
Speaking at a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Friday, Mr Biden also thanked Ireland for supporting Ukraine.
Mr Varadkar told Mr Biden that his support and understanding for Ireland’s position on Brexit in recent years “had really made a difference”.
He said “we have got to a good place” with the new framework.
The Taoiseach said he profoundly wanted to thank Mr Biden and the United States for its leadership on Ukraine.
“I never thought I would see a war like this in Europe in my lifetime.”
“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes”, he said.
Mr Varadkar said America was at its best when it stood with its European partners in defence of freedom and democracy.
The Taoiseach promised the president there be “big crowds” to welcome him on his forthcoming visit to Ireland. He said people were very excited about it.
[ Stories, song and shades of green at St Patrick’s Day parades around the country ]
[ St Patrick’s Day as it happened: Catch up on all the events from at home and abroad ]
Mr Varadkar and Mr Biden addressed brief remarks to journalists in the Oval Office but declined to take any questions as had been previously expected.
In an official readout of the meeting between Mr Biden and the Taoiseach, the White House said they had “reaffirmed the historic ties and shared values” between the United States and Ireland and discussed their countries’ shared commitment to continue supporting Ukraine.
“They also talked about their cooperation on a range of other global issues. The leaders reaffirmed their steadfast support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as we approach its 25th anniversary and welcomed the Windsor Framework as an important step in preserving the agreement’s peace dividend. In addition, they discussed the robust trade and investment between our countries, as well as steps to strengthen the resilience of our economies.”
On Thursday, the Taoiseach issued a hasty apology after making a joke about interning in Washington during the Clinton presidency.
Earlier the Taoiseach met the Vice-President Kamala Harris for breakfast at her official residence, and praised her and the United States for advancing the cause of LGBT rights.
Mr Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett were hosted by Ms Harris and her husband, the “Second Gentleman” Doug Emhoff at the Naval Observatory in Washington for a breakfast with a small group of officials and guests.
Thanking Ms Harris for welcoming himself and Mr Barrett, Mr Varadkar said:
“As doctors and as proud members of the LGBT community, allow us to say how inspired we’ve been by your personal advocacy for marriage equality ... also your defence of affordable healthcare.
“From Stonewall to Sacramento to San Francisco, America has led the way when it comes to LGBT equality,” Mr Varadkar said.
“I don’t think I would be here today were it not for what America did. I know you’ve been such a strong ally to our community in that regard.”
Mr Varadkar praised Ireland and America’s “ancient and enduring expression of friendship, honoured across cultures”.
He also praised Ms Harris’s advocacy on healthcare issues and said that Ireland was introducing Sláintecare which would abolish inpatient charges and phase out private care in public hospitals.