Irish Examiner View: Taoiseach off to Washington in the Green

Leo Varadkar on a previous visit to Mike Pence.
Leo Varadkar on a previous visit to Mike Pence.

LEO Varadkar will have to use charm and political know-how in Washington over the next two days if he is to ensure ongoing friendly relations with the Trump administration.

As well as two encounters with the US President, the Taoiseach will also attend a gala dinner to honour House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as a lunch she will host for him on Capitol Hill.

Washington watchers will recall how, because of her role in his impeachment, Donald Trump refused to shake hands with Speaker Pelosi before his State of the Union address while she, in turn, tore up a copy of his speech.

Varadkar will also be hosted by Vice President Mike Pence, a man not noted for his liberal views. In January the White House streamed a homophobic church service attended by Pence, during which a preacher claimed that a "demonic spirit" is behind homosexuality.

Neither is Pence known for his tact or diplomacy.

On a visit here last September, he was accused of humiliating his hosts by staying in Trump's Doonbeg golf resort instead of accommodation provided for visiting dignitaries in Farmleigh, located in the Phoenix Park.

He caused even more by openly and loudly declaring his support for Brexit.

This year, the Taoiseach's meeting with the Vice President will be closed to the media. Will Varadkar, who may be making his last trip as Taoiseach, stick to diplomacy or take the chance to deliver some home truths away from the spotlight?

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