By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Thursday that the United States would help Ireland recover from its economic problems and that he would visit in May.
"We have had an excellent conversation about how Ireland is going to be bouncing back from the severe economic challenges that it's experienced over the last several years," Obama told reporters in the White House Oval Office, with Kenny sitting next to him.
"I'm sure that we will be cooperating very closely with (Kenny) and providing any assistance that we can on the economic front," Obama said.
He said the two men discussed the fact that the situation in Northern Ireland continued to be stable.
"We are going to continue to pursue all the progress that's been made there," the president said.
Kenny, at the White House on St. Patrick's Day, said Obama's planned visit was a statement of confidence in his country.
"Ireland's open for business and will continue to be open for business to the United States," he said.
Data showed on Tuesday that Ireland's unemployment rate rose to its highest level in 17 years in the fourth quarter.
Kenny offered to play a round of golf with Obama during his trip. Obama, who enjoys playing golf in his free time, replied that he'd have to practice beforehand.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)