March 17 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden met virtually on Wednesday with Ireland Prime Minister Michael Martin, in recognition of St. Patrick's Day, and plans to discuss how the two nations can work together to fight COVID-19, cooperate on vaccines and improve diplomatic relations.
Biden spent the night Tuesday at his home in Wilmington, Del., after visiting a small business in the Philadelphia area and returned to the White House on Wednesday morning.
The two were expected to discuss mutual global issues, like U.S. and Irish involvement on the United Nations Security Council, their relationship with the European Union, trade and continued support of the "Good Friday agreement" with Northern Ireland.
"The Irish and American people enjoy a special bond," the White House said in a statement. "Over 30 million Americans, almost 10% of the population, claim Irish heritage.
"We are committed to preserving and strengthening that bond through educational, cultural and professional exchange and development opportunities."
Biden, an Irish member of the Catholic faith, attended a Mass in Delaware on Wednesday morning to recognize St. Patrick's Day. After receiving his daily briefing, the president returned to Washington, D.C., for his virtual meeting with Martin.
Despite the limitations of the virtual meeting, the traditional Shamrock Bowl ceremony -- in which the Irish government sends an engraved bowl and shamrocks to the White House -- will be held.
"St. Patrick's Day is a particularly special event for President Biden given his Irish heritage, and so he is also committed to keeping [Wednesday's] events as close to the way that they would appear if we were doing this in person," a senior administration official told CNN Tuesday.
The fountain on the North Lawn of the White House was colored green Wednesday to commemorate St. Patrick's Day. Also, the White House will be lit green on Wednesday night.