Fw: Pool Report #1a, March 17, 2015

From: Davis, Julie [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 12:53 PM
To: Velz, Peter
Subject: Pool Report #1a, March 17, 2015

Pool Report #1a, March 17, 2015
More color and comments from President Obama and Irish Prime Minster Kenny in Oval

President Obama and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the prime minister of Ireland, sat side by side in front of the mantel in the Oval Office. Both wore dark suits and green ties, and Kenny wore a bunch of shamrocks on his lapel. Among those spotted standing against the back windows during the spray were Vice President Biden, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Evan Reade, NSC director for Europe.

Obama spoke first, saying the St. Patrick’s Day visit has become one of his favorites, allowing him to “trot out my Irish heritage” and fondly recall his visits to Ireland, as well as reaffirm “friendship and family ties between our two countries.”

On the economy: “Ireland is on the move after a very challenging financial crisis…Under the Taoiseach’s leadership, finances have stabilized, the economy’s now growing again.”

On trade: Obama said they talked about the potential for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and how to continue those negotiations.

On Northern Ireland: Obama said the framework agreement “offers great hope for resolution of some longstanding challenges there. There’s still more work to do.”

On immigration: Obama said immigration reform is “of great interest” to Kenny. “We share the view that one of the great strengths of the United States has always been its willingness to welcome new entrants to our shores….Nobody’s contributed more to the growth and dynamism of the U.S. economy than Irish immigrants.”

Obama said they also talked about security challenges, including “the importance of having a firm and resolute position with respect to Ukraine and Russian aggression there, and the need to maintain strong sanctions and ensure that the Minsk agreement is fully implemented and that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is respected.”

They also talked about Middle East challenges and the problem of foreign fighters, as well as increasing counterterrorism cooperation.

Kenny said he had spoken to Obama about a number of issues, including Ireland’s economic growth, saying, “I reminded him that it’s a fragile progress, and it’s a work that’s not yet complete.”

Kenny said Ireland is “very supportive” of the TTIP trade agreement and wants to see it happen during Obama’s administration. He also touched on immigration, saying he hoped American politicians would have the “courage and leadership” to act on it. On Ukraine, Kenny said Europe “has been very clear on this and wants to be very clear” in working with the United States to apply sanctions to Russia.

Before your pool was escorted out, Obama held up a small, slim green-bound volume of poetry by William Butler Yeats he said Kenny had brought him as a gift. Obama said Yeats is “one of my favorite poets,” adding that among “all those wonderful exports, at the top of the list has to be poetry from Ireland.”

On the way to the motorcade to head to Capitol Hill for the St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, your pool spotted the fountain on the Ellipse running green. After the short ride to the Capitol, we emerged from pool vans to the strains of a bagpipe in the distance, and spotted a kilt-clad bagpiper in Statuary Hall, where we are now holding awaiting a glimpse of the festivities.

/jhd

Julie Hirschfeld Davis
White House Correspondent
The New York Times
xxx@email.com

(202) xxx-xxx-xxxx mobile
(202) xxx-xxx-xxxx direct

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