US PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IS HANDED SHAMROCK DURING A CEREMONY WITH BERTIE AHERN IN WASHINGTON
Jason Reed  /  Reuters
President Bush, right, is handed a bowl of shamrock during a ceremony with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern at the White House on Wednesday.
updated 3/17/2004 11:36:25 AM ET 2004-03-17T16:36:25

President Bush used a St. Patrick’s Day ceremony Wednesday to announce he will go to Ireland in June for a summit with the European Union.

Bush and his wife, Laura, were presented with a bowl of shamrocks by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a happy one for Americans, Bush said. “Some places, Americans get a little too happy,” he joked.

Bush said the U.S.-E.U. in late June would “strengthen the essential partnership” between the United States and Europe. Those bonds have been strained by sharp differences over the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Bush and Ahern expressed unity in the fight against terrorism and they remembered the more than 200 victims of last week’s bombings in Madrid.

The European UnionThe president said he and Ahern shared a common vision for a lasting peace for the people of Northern Ireland “free of terror and intimidation.”

“I call for a permanent end to all political violence,” the president said. “There is no place for paramilitaries in a democratic society.”

Ahern said the ceremony was a reminder of “the close and abiding friendship that has existed between our two nations for so many centuries. The United States has been a stalwart supporter of Ireland, in good times and in bad.”

“Europe and the United States share a common determination to overcome the evils of terrorism,” Ahern said. “Last week we witnessed the willful destruction of human life in Madrid. Many were reminded of the horrors of 9/11. Terrorism is an affront to our democracies. ... We are determined to ensure that our people are protected from this despicable scourge.”

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