Ireland will remain outside the American coronavirus travel ban, President Trump has confirmed.
Speaking in the Oval Office during a visit with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, President Trump said: “It was made very clear last night who is and who isn’t (included in the travel ban)."
Mr Varadkar went on to confirm: “The President has excluded Ireland from the travel ban.”
Mr Trump addressed America on live TV on Wednesday night announcing that travel would halt between America and certain European countries.
As part of Mr Varadkar’s annual St Patrick’s Day trip, the two leaders said their discussions will centre around the pandemic and immigration issues between the two countries.
"We have a lot to discuss, we’ll be talking about the obvious and the virus that has hit the world, this is a big world problem,” President Trump said.
"We took the ultimate bold step, we closed very early with China, saving thousands of lives, and we went very early with Europe and I think that’ll likewise be very good, and hopefully we can get it back very quickly. It’s just a question of time.”
When asked if he had discussed the ban with European leaders who are said to have been taken by surprise by the announcement, Mr Trump said that they had to act quickly: “We spoke to some of the majors but when they raise taxes on us they don’t consult us.”
The 30-minute press conference was dominated by talk of the virus and America’s next steps in tackling the issue, with Mr Trump lauding Mr Varadkar for his earlier announcement to close Irish schools and colleges.
The pair confirmed that they didn’t shake hands due to concerns about the outbreak, Mr Trump said he had just come back from India and mimicked how they bowed to each other, and chose to do that instead.
"We looked at each other and thought ’What are we gonna do?’, Mr Trump said.
Mr Varadkar added: "It almost feels impersonal or being rude but we can’t afford to think like that for the next few weeks."
Talk turned to the upcoming general election in America, which will likely see Joe Biden face off with Mr Trump in November.
Mr Varadkar said that "any American President" is always welcome in Ireland, no matter who is the winner, while Mr Trump said that Irish people would always be welcome and loved in his country: "We love the Irish."