The Washington Times - March 19, 2013, 03:16PM

President Obama celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, two days late, by welcoming Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the White House for his annual visit at this time of the year.

The two leaders, each in green ties and a sprig of shamrock in their suit pockets for the occasion, sat down for a private meeting and later attended the annual St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the Capitol, hosted by Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.


“It gives me great pleasure to welcome back Taoiseach Kenny to the Oval Office, to the White House,” Mr. Obama said. “Obviously, we cherish this opportunity … to reaffirm the incredible bond between the United States and Ireland. This year, it also gave us an excuse to spread out St. Patrick’s Day for a couple extra days, which is always good.”

“We have an incredibly strong partnership on economic issues, security issues,” he added. “We’re seeing progress in the Irish economy. That’s good for the U.S. economy.”

Mr. Kenny invited Mr. Obama back to Ireland and joked that the two could play some golf. He said he planned to talk to Mr. Obama about immigration, Northern Ireland and trade.

Before lunch on Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama also met with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland in the Roosevelt Room to “discuss their progress toward meeting their shared commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Northern Ireland.”