US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has said he intends to visit Ireland this year.
Mr Trump is meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office this afternoon where Brexit is high on the agenda for talks.
The US president said he was disappointed not to visit Ireland in 2018 and that he hopes to do so this year.
He said that he and Mr Varadkar are becoming “fast friends” and he acknowledged the Taoiseach is in a “complicated position” due to Brexit.
Mr Trump also complained about how the European Union has treated the US in trade talks.
On his plans to visit Ireland Mr Trump said: “I’ll be coming at some point during the year. I missed it last time but I would have loved to have been there. It’s a special place.”
He said he has a “very warm spot” for Doonbeg, where he owns a golf resort.
“It’s just a great place,” Mr Trump added.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, the US President said the US will stay out of Britain’s negotiations over Brexit.
But he criticised British Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of the talks.
Welcoming Mr Varadkar, Mr Trump told reporters: “As you know he’s in a very complicated position because of Brexit.
“You’re going to have to tell me what’s happening,” he said to the Taoiseach.
Mr Trump added that Mr Varadkar is a “very popular man doing a wonderful job.”
Mr Trump said he wants Brexit talks to work out but was surprised at how badly the negotiations have gone, adding that Mrs May did not listen to his suggestions on how to negotiate.
Mr Trump also said he did not think another vote on Brexit would be possible because it would be unfair, and reiterated that he would like to see a US trade deal with the UK after it leaves the EU.
Mr Trump was asked if he’s still a Brexit supporter.
He said: “It wasn’t that I was a supporter. I predicted it was going to happen. I was right and people laughed when I predicted it…
“I’m surprised how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of negotiations.
“I gave the prime minister [Theresa May] my ideas on how to negotiate… she didn’t listen to that and that’s fine.
“She’s got to do what she’s got to do but I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner.
“I hate to see everything being ripped apart right now.
“I don’t think another vote would be possible because it would be very unfair to people who want [Brexit].”
Mr Varadkar said he looked forward to discussing Brexit with Mr Trump and that he would like to see a European trade deal with the United States.
More to follow
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