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The Taoiseach and US Vice-President speaking as they pose for photographers outside her residence in Washington DC Alamy Stock Photo
Kamala Harris

Varadkar says Gaza crisis will 'haunt us for years to come' at breakfast meeting with Harris

Varadkar is continuing on to the White House to meet President Joe Biden.


THE TAOISEACH HAS said that the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will “haunt us for years to come” as he visited the residence of the US Vice-President on his trip to Washington DC.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s Day tour itinerary brought him to the residence of President Joe Biden’s second-in-command Kamala Harris, where the pair met over breakfast.

Both had complimentary words for each other, with Varadkar praising the US for “trying to bring about” an end to the war in Gaza – despite its ongoing military support for Israel.

Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff greeted Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett outside the residence this morning, which is also known as the Naval Observatory.

Addressing guests inside the house, Varadkar commended Harris for speaking in favour of a ceasefire, saying she showed “great courage and leadership”.

“Like you, we call for the unconditional and immediate release of all of the hostages, a very significant increase in humanitarian aid, food, medicine, sanitation, electricity and an end to the fighting by both sides, Israel and Hamas and we support the work of the United States in trying to bring that about,” he said.

“There is a terrible humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, a very human tragedy which I think will haunt us all for years to come,” he told the room.

“In Ireland, we know how quickly atrocities can lead to calls for vengeance, creating new cycles of hatred and bitterness. But we also know that the cycle can be broken and a new hope can replace old hatreds.

“The United States helped us to find peace. Now, let us work together to build just and lasting peace in the Middle East for Israel, Palestine and its Arab neighbours.”

In her remarks, Vice-President Harris called the Taoiseach “a global leader”.

She praised Ireland’s acceptance of Ukrainian refugees and said Varadkar was “leading by example”.

“Under your leadership, Ireland has hosted one of the highest per capita populations of Ukrainian refugees, a testament to the generosity and the compassion of the Irish people,” she said.

She said Varadkar was “courageous in the fight for women’s reproductive freedom” and commented on how Ireland was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage via referendum.

She made only short reference to Gaza, saying: “Regarding the conflict in the Middle East, driven by Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack, Ireland has been a leader in providing food, water and medicine to the people of Gaza.”

Varadkar is now bound for the White House where he is due to meet President Joe Biden.

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Lauren Boland and Christina Finn
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