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Biden won't host foreign leaders at White House for 'a couple of months', spokesperson says

It was confirmed last week that the Taoiseach won’t be travelling to the White House for St Patrick’s Day.

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden
Image: DPA/PA Images

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden will not be hosting foreign counterparts at the White House for at least a couple months, his spokesperson has said, underlining the administration’s strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

“It will be a couple of months before the president has an in-person or invites a foreign leader to meet in person here at the White House,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

These comments come after it was confirmed on Friday that Taoiseach Micheál Martin won’t be travelling to the White House for St Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

The occasion will instead be marked remotely, with an in-person meeting with President Joe Biden not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Irish and US officials are currently working out how best to mark the day, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said. 

“These arrangements will take full account of the challenges of Covid and we expect that on this occasion the tradition will be upheld via a programme of virtual events.”

There had been no specific invite for Martin to travel to the White House this year but an “annual standing invitation” has existed each year since 1956.

The White House also said today that imminent foreign trips for Biden are not expected.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the first foreign leader to get a phone call from newly sworn-in Biden in January – sparked speculation that an in-person summit was being planned for February.

“The two leaders agreed to meet next month,” Trudeau’s office said after the call.

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However, Psaki said only a video link was planned. 

“We can meet over video, as you all know,” she said.

Psaki said discussions are underway on holding the traditional presidential State of the Union address to a packed joint session of Congress, but due to Covid restrictions it “obviously will look different”.

With reporting by Rónán Duffy and © – AFP 2021 

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