(CNSNews.com) – “He’s looking forward to this,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday, as she announced that the White House soon will “have more to share” about Biden’s trip next week to Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland.
She did not know, or could not say, whether Biden will take members of his family on the April 11-14 trip to his ancestral homeland. “But we’ll certainly have more to share as we get closer to the date,” she said.
A reporter asked Jean-Pierre, “Is he going to retrace his family roots there? Why is it personally important for him to go on this trip?”
“Look, the President is eager — I actually had a conversation with him this morning about this particular trip — he’s eager to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland, two nations who we have close ties to.
“He, as I mentioned, will have a series of engagements — Belfast and Dublin and County Louth and County Mayo.
“But as I — as — you know, as I mentioned, look, he’s looking forward to this. The President is going to be highlighting, as you talk about his family, how his family history is part of that larger shared history between U.S. and Ireland.
“Waves of Irish immigrants helped shape America’s spirit of freedom and of our drive for independence, which launched an irrevocable friendship between our two countries.
“So, yes, that part of the trip, where it connects to his family, is going to be incredibly important to him, but also the broader — the broader Irish American community as well, as we talk about immigrants, as we talk about how this country was created. So, he is — he’s — he’s definitely looking forward to this trip.”
Jean-Pierre noted that the U.S. has “close ties” to both the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) and Ireland.
“He will head first to travel to Belfast. That will be his first sta- — stop, where he will mark the tremendous progress since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago and underscore the readiness of the United States to support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities.
“Next, the President will travel to Ireland, where he will discuss our close cooperation on the full range of shared global challenges.
“He will also hold various engagements — including Dublin, County Louth, and County Mayo — and — and celebrate the deep historic ties that link our countries and people.”
Biden will skip King Charles’s coronation
At the same news conference, Jean-Pierre said Biden had a 25- to 30-minute call with King Charles III, telling him that First Lady Jill Biden would attend the king’s coronation “on behalf of the United States.”
The president will not attend the May 6 event in London.
“Actually, during that call, the King offered for him to come and do a state — a state visit, which — which the President accepted. And — and so they will see each other again very soon,” Jean-Pierre said.
There is no “timetable” for such a visit, she added.
A reporter asked if Biden will meet with King Charles when he’s in the United Kingdom next week, or with the prime minister?
“Look, I — we’ll have more to share on who he’s going to be meeting with. I just don’t have anything to share at this time,” she said.
‘Follow along’ with Joe
Biden, as vice president, spent six days in Ireland in June 2016, tracing his family roots.
In fact, the Obama White House blogged about Biden’s trip at the time, urging people to “follow along with the Vice President’s trip to Ireland.”
The blog included the following message from the then-vice president:
“I’m going back to Ireland — the country from which my ancestors hailed, and a country whose independence the Easter Rising set in motion, 100 years ago this year.
“It is my first dedicated trip to this nation as Vice President — during which I’ll meet with the country’s leaders, discuss issues of trade, economic recovery, migration and refugee policy, and other national security challenges, and celebrate our shared heritage. Our shared values of tolerance. Diversity. Inclusiveness.
“And it’s a trip I’m so deeply grateful to be taking alongside my children and grandchildren.
“Over the course of my life, I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve traveled all around the world — more than a million miles on Air Force Two alone. I’ve been honored to have held a lot of titles. But I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan.
“The grandson of Geraldine Finnegan from St. Paul’s Parish in Scranton; a proud descendant of the Finnegans of Ireland’s County Louth. The great-grandson of a man named Edward Francis Blewitt, whose roots stem from Ballina, a small town in Ireland’s County Mayo — sister city to my hometown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. An engineer with a poet’s heart. Months after my mother passed away, I found an old box of his poems in my attic.
“In his poetry, my great-grandfather spoke of both continents, and how his heart and his soul drew from the old and the new. And most of all, he was proud. He was proud of his ancestors. He was proud of his blood. He was proud of his city. He was proud of his state, his country. But most of all — he was proud of his family.
“And that is America: This notion that home is where your character is etched. As Americans, we all hail from many homes. Somewhere along the line, someone in our lineage arrived on our shores, filled with hope. We are blessed to experience that simultaneous pride in where we’ve found ourselves, while never forgetting our roots.
“James Joyce wrote, ‘When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.’ Well, Northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart. But Ireland will be written on my soul. And as we join the world in celebrating everything that Ireland has become, and indeed everything that she is always been, I could not be more honored to be returning.
“You can see what I see right here. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.”
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