President Donald Trump called the new head of Ireland to offer his congratulations… but first, he had to wait.
Trump was put on hold for about 90 seconds as he waited for Leo Varadkar the new taoiseach (Irish prime minister) to come to the phone while the assembled press watched, according to CBS News.
Then it got even more awkward.
After complimenting Varadkar on a “great victory,” Trump called out to Caitriona Perry, the U.S. bureau chief for Ireland’s RTE News.
“And where are you from?” he asked. “Go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?”
Perry approached the desk and introduced herself.
“She has a nice smile on her face,” Trump reported to Varadkar. “So I bet she treats you well.”
Here’s the awkward encounter from another angle:
“He thanks you for the newspapers, Caitriona,” Trump said as she stepped away from the desk.
Ireland’s Independent newspaper said Perry had sent Varadkar copies of The Washington Post and The New York Times from the day he was named leader of Fine Gael, the country’s ruling party, earlier this month.
“I had sent those back to Dublin via colleagues for Leo Varadkar as souvenirs that he and his family might like,” she told the Independent. “I do that often when there is a reference to someone I know from home who is featured in the newspapers here.”
Varadkar’s assumption of Fine Gael leadership paved the way for his appointment as taoiseach.
A statement from Varadkar’s office said the two leaders discussed “migration, Brexit and the movement of goods and citizens across the border, climate change, free trade, Irish inward investment in the US, and the undocumented Irish,” according to The Irish Times.
The newspaper said they also discussed the peace process in Northern Ireland and a White House meeting next March.