Two days after St. Patrick's Day, President Obama and Congress hosted Irish leaders to celebrate the holiday and America's strong ties to Ireland.
Mr. Obama met at the White House this morning with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, noting beforehand that the U.S. and Ireland have an incredibly strong partnership on economic and security issues.
"Obviously, we cherish this opportunity once a year to reaffirm the incredible bond between the United States and Ireland," Mr. Obama said from the Oval Office before the private meeting, with Kenny seated next to him. "This year, it also gives us an excuse to stretch out St. Patrick's Day for a couple of extra days, which is always good."
Both Mr. Obama and Kenny were wearing green ties and a sprig of shamrock in their suit pockets.
Mr. Obama hailed the prime minister for his leadership through hard economic times in Ireland and noted that a stronger Irish economy will help the U.S. economy. He cited a, calling it "an example of how the progress that's made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the United States."
Kenny said he would brief the president on trade issues, as well as the issue of Northern Ireland.
Mr. Obama this morning also met privately at the White House with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland.
After his meetings, Mr. Obama and Kenny headed to the U.S. Capitol for Congress' traditional St. Patrick's Day lunch.
This evening, Mr. and Mrs. Obama are hosting a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room in the White House. In a tradition started under President Harry Truman, the president will receive a bowl of shamrocks from Kenny.