Irish FM disputes reports of disagreement over Trump visit
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney is disputing reports that there is disagreement between Washington and Dublin over President Donald Trump’s potential two-day visit to Ireland next month.
” Let me just reassure people there is no row [disagreement] that’s the first thing, ” he said.
However, an Irish government source with knowledge of ongoing discussions told CNN negotiations hit a snag when the White House insisted the Irish Prime Minister, or Taoiseach , Leo Varadkar come to the President’s golf course in Doonbeg to host a meeting between the two leaders.
The source, who asked that his name not be used so he could speak freely, said that Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has been intimately involved in the discussions and has been insistent that Varadkar come to Doonbeg .
The source said the Irish side had offered to host Trump for dinner at a nearby venue, the Dromoland Castle, which is where President George W. Bush met with then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2004, and as a compromise, offered to have the Taoiseach come to Trump’s Doonbeg property for a breakfast.
” There was an attempt to compromise where the Taoiseach would host a dinner for Mr. Trump at Dromoland and perhaps visit Doonbeg for breakfast as well, ” the source said.
An Irish lawmaker told CNN that ” the visit is likely to go ahead as the Taoiseach has indicated there wasn’t an issue with meeting President Trump at Doonbeg . ”
However, an Irish government source with knowledge of the discussion said, ” They may not want to call it a standoff but there is still no agreement between the two sides, despite the compromise put forward by the Irish. ”
” If there was agreement there would be an announcement [of the visit] by now, ” the source said.
In an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE Sunday, Coveney downplayed concerns, saying, ” The reason why there has been a delay here and uncertainty is that the US are essentially working out the president’s visit to the EU what’s going to be a private element of that visit and what part would be very public and in that context they are looking at Ireland. ”
He also said, ” A lot of what you’ve been reading in newspapers in the past few days is a total exaggeration.
” There is certainly no row over Doonbeg versus other locations, ” he added.
Coveney also talked about the relationship between the US and Ireland.
” If the President of the United States wants to come here, just like the Taoiseach , regardless of who the Taoiseach is or what their policies are, are always welcome in Washington. And we need to return that courtesy. ”
When asked by RTE if he wanted to see Trump come to Ireland, Coveney said, ” It would be no secret that many of the foreign policy initiatives that the US have taken under this President are decisions that I would be uncomfortable with and the government would be uncomfortable with. That being said, the relationship … is one that certainly demands the facilitation of a visit of the US President, should he decide to come. ”
Coveney also said of the visit that ” it would be inappropriate for me to announce details of that until the US announces, ” and, ” I suspect we’ll get clarity on that in the next couple of days. ”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
When asked about the potential of a Trump visit, Varadkar told RTE Friday he had no update on the proposed visit, but that if a visit is planned he will be very happy ‘to receive him’ adding it may not even necessarily happen.
Varadkar told reporters recently, ” The President of America is always welcome here. We respect the role no matter what we think of the person themselves. ”
The two leaders last met in Washington in March, and Trump said then, ” I will be coming at some point this year. I missed it last year, and I would have loved to have been there. It’s a special place and I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg , I will tell you that. It is just a great place. ”
At the time, Trump said, ” It is really great to have the prime minister of Ireland with us ” and said the two were becoming ” fast friends. ”
CNN’s Nic Robertson in London and Peter Taggart In Ireland contributed to this report.