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Israel-Hamas war: Leo Varadkar and Joe Biden agree on need for Gaza ceasefire in St Patrick's Day White House talks

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and US President Joe Biden have agreed on the need for a ceasefire "as soon as possible" in Gaza and a two-state solution for Palestinians during talks in Washington on Friday.

Mr Varadkar met the US President, as part of the Taoiseach's traditional St Patrick's Day trip to the US capital.

Before their White House meeting, Mr Varadkar told reporters: "You'll know my view that we need to have a ceasefire as soon as possible to get food and medicine in, get the hostages out.

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"We need to talk about how we can make that happen and move towards a two-state solution, which I think is the only way we'll have lasting peace and security."

Mr Biden said "I agree" in response to Mr Varadkar's comments on a ceasefire and again to the two-state solution.

Asked by reporters in the Oval Office about progress on Hamas's ceasefire proposal, Mr Biden crossed his fingers.

Israel's current military offensive in Gaza was launched in the wake of Hamas's 7 October attack.

The number of Palestinians killed since then is more than 31,000, the health ministry previously said.

A quarter of the remaining Palestinians there face starvation, according to the United Nations.

The US president, who faces an election this year, said that Ireland and the US were "working together to increase humanitarian assistance in Gaza and we both know there's a lot more that has to be done."

They were also looking to help Ukraine, Mr Biden added, "in the face of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's onslaught, the savagery with which he's attacking Ukrainians.

At a breakfast meeting with vice president Kamala Harris, he praised her "great courage and leadership" in calling for a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave, as it "can't have been easy, but it was the right thing to do and your words echoed all over the world."

Mr Varadkar said that the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza "will haunt us all for years to come", but that Ireland's own experience in ending decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland can inspire today's peacemakers.

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

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"The United States helped us to find peace [during negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement], now let us work together to build just and lasting peace in the Middle East for Israel, Palestine and its Arab neighbours."