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Taoiseach calls on US to push for peace in Middle East

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office for a bilateral meeting to coincide with St Patrick’s Day.

Evoking the role the US played in brokering the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, Mr Varadkar called on the US to push for peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Biden has said that Ireland and the US were “working together to increase humanitarian assistance in Gaza and we both know there’s a lot more that has to be done”.

The US president said both countries were also looking to assist Ukraine “in the face of Putin’s onslaught, the savagery with which he’s attacking Ukrainians” and thanked Ireland for its “unwavering” support.

“As we begin the next century of our partnership and friendship, I’ve never been more optimistic because we’re united by history here … There’s not a damn thing we can’t do together.”

Speaking ahead of a key bilateral between the two leaders, Mr Biden also thanked the Taoiseach for the reception he received during his visit to Ireland last year.

“As a matter of fact, my family wasn’t sure we wanted to come home,” he said.

“It’s great to see you again, great chance to return some of the hospitality that you provided me when I was in Ireland last. And I know there are all kinds of old Irish sayings, but my grandfather Finnegan used to say, ‘May the hinge of our friendship never go rusty’.

Evoking the role the US played in brokering the Good Friday Agreement, Leo Varadkar called on the US to push for peace for Israelis and Palestinians

“He had all these sayings – the Irish in America, sometimes they’re more Irish than the Irish – but I don’t think we’re going to let it go rusty.”

He said they were also marking 100 years of diplomatic relationships between Ireland and the United States.

Mr Varadkar also told US vice president Kamala Harris and others gathered for a St Patrick’s Day breakfast at the vice president’s residence that the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza “will haunt us all for years to come”.

“In Ireland, we know how quickly atrocities can lead to calls for vengeance, to creating new cycles of hatred and bitterness. But we also know that the cycle can be broken and that new hope can replace old hatreds,” Mr Varadkar said.

“The United States helped us to find peace, now let us work together to build just and lasting peace in the Middle East for Israel, Palestine and its Arab neighbours.

“We know from our own story that finding peace can be a long and painful process, and it takes time to build trust and build relationships. American politicians on both sides of the aisle helped to encourage and nurture these relationships in Northern Ireland over many decades, and we thank you all so much for that.”


Read more:
‘Stop the money’ – Robinson urges Taoiseach to press Biden on military support for Israel



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