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Hillary passes on tips to Obamas for Irish visit -- and might come herself

HILLARY CLINTON is to brief the US president on the sights to see during his historic visit to Ireland.

The Secretary of State has revealed that she has "a lot of good ideas" about what Barack Obama should put in his May itinerary.

And Ms Clinton told Irish reporters in Washington that she may even accompany the travelling delegation if her work commitments allow.

"I'm excited. And I never know where I'm going to be, as has been evident for the last several weeks, but I would love to be there, because I love to be in Ireland under any circumstances," she said.

Ms Clinton, who is just back in the US Capitol after a series of meetings in Europe and the Middle East, met with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore for the first time in what was a major coup for the new Foreign Affairs Minister.

Afterwards she praised the relationship between Ireland and the US and apologised for missing the St Patrick's Day activities at the White House.

"I'm sorry I had to spend St Patrick's Day away from the celebrations, but I am delighted that we have so many common goals for the continuing close co-operation between our two countries," she said.

At a press conference the former first lady literally gave a thumbs-up to the fact that Mr Obama has taken up her advice to pay a visit to Ireland.

"We are delighted that the president will be coming to Ireland. That is very good news for everyone, and I don't know how many Irish-Americans will believe they have to be there with him, but I would imagine that the number will be substantial."

Further details of the trip have now also emerged as Mr Gilmore confirmed that the likely scenario is that Mr Obama will arrive between 24 and 48 hours after Queen Elizabeth leaves.

The queen is visiting for three days from May 17 and, as first reported by the Herald, the expected date for the US president's visit is now May 22.





schedule

"We're looking at the weekend after the queen's visit," the Tanaiste explained. "The intention is that President Obama's visit would be in the days after that. We haven't settled on actual dates yet because obviously that depends on the president's schedule."

He said the White House and Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin would be working closely to arrange the proceedings.

During a 30-minute meeting at the Department of State in Washington, Mr Gilmore and Ms Clinton discussed a wide range of issues including Japan, Libya, overseas aid and the economy.

The Secretary of State thanked Ireland for its "extraordinary support for ending global hunger, an area that we are going to continue to work on together".

On foot of the meetings plans are under way for a joint Irish-US diplomatic trip to Africa "at some point to highlight" the need to improve maternal and child nutrition.

Mr Gilmore said: "For my part, I updated Secretary Clinton on the economic situation in Ireland, and the steps which the new Government for national recovery intend to take to promote economic growth, restore confidence, fix our banking system, and support the protection and creation of jobs."



  • Former US secretary of state Warren Christopher, who worked for peace in Bosnia and the Mid-East in the Clinton administration, has died in Los Angeles.

Spokeswoman Sonja Steptoe from law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where Mr Christopher was a senior partner, said he died at his home last night of complications from bladder and kidney cancer. He was 85.

As he prepared to step down as secretary of state in 1996, Mr Christopher said his proudest accomplishments included helping promote a ban on nuclear weapons tests.

He also tried to foster a peace deal in the Middle East but was more successful in the negotiations that produced a settlement in 1995 for Bosnia.

kdoyle@herald.ie