Obama, Biden kick off St. Patrick's Day early at White House, meet with Ireland's prime minister

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden is kicking off St. Patrick's Day early by having breakfast with Ireland's prime minister.

Biden hosted Enda Kenny and about 50 others for eggs, potatoes and Irish soda bread. Irish music could be heard coming from Biden's official residence as he welcomed Kenny.

Biden praises Kenny for his handling of the fiscal crisis in Europe. He says Kenny had the courage to make difficult decisions that have benefited Ireland.

Biden has an Irish background. He Americans and Irish share culture and values.

The breakfast starts a busy day of St. Patrick's Day-themed events in Washington. Kenny will attend a meeting with President Barack Obama, an annual lunch at the U.S. Capitol and a White House reception.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

St. Patrick's Day is coming early to the White House this year.

The official holiday falls on Monday. But Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will be marking the occasion Friday during a series of events around Washington.

Kenny starts his day having breakfast with Joe Biden at the vice president's official residence. Then he'll meet with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Later, the leaders plan to attend the annual St. Patrick's Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol. And in the evening, the Obamas plan a reception at the White House.

Kenny's annual St. Patrick's Day visits have become a tradition. Obama and Kenny will exchange shamrocks in a custom started under President Harry Truman.

Biden will meet separately Friday with Northern Ireland's leaders to discuss progress toward peace.

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