First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness met US Vice President Joe Biden in Washingston DC yesterday as part the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The pair met Mr Biden, who has an Irish background, at The White House, a day after he gave a speech urging Northern Ireland politicians to make progress on outstanding political issues here.
Also yesterday Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness met US President Barack Obama at the Speaker’s Lunch on Capitol Hill, where they conversed briefly as part of the annual St Patrick’s Day events. The President invites a wide range of guests to the annual lunch.
Earlier, the two Northern Ireland leaders addressed the annual St Patrick’s Day Breakfast in the capital.
Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness took the opportunity to reflect on the immense success that Northern Ireland enjoyed in 2013 and looked forward to building on that legacy.
“We acknowledge the ongoing support of the US administration and its role in the political and economic development of Northern Ireland,” Mr Robinson said.
“The executive has made growing our economy its number one priority and attracting Foreign Direct Investment is vital if we are to rebalance and rebuild our economy.
“The United States is our number one source of foreign direct investment with over 165 US owned businesses in Northern Ireland employing over 18,000 employees.
“Major global companies such as the CME Group, Citigroup, HBO and Universal have chosen to invest in Northern Ireland and more importantly, continue to re-invest.”
Mr McGuinness added: “The US and Ireland have a long lasting mutually beneficial relationship which we greatly appreciate.
“The traditional St Patrick’s Day celebrations provide an opportunity to thank the US administration for their continued support.
“In 2013 our international reputation experienced unprecedented growth and we took our place on the world stage for all the right reasons. The G8 Summit in June saw the world’s leaders come to our shores and the legacy of Derry City of Culture 2013 will live on for a very long time.”
Meanwhile, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny met President Barack Obama at the White House as part of his visit to the US to mark St Patrick’s Day.
The two leaders, who met in the Oval Office, discussed the situation in Ukraine, with Mr Obama saying he still hopes for a diplomatic solution but warning Russia anew that it will face consequences if Ukraine’s sovereignty is violated.