The Irish premier said he welcomes US Vice President Kamala Harris’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Leo Varadkar said that her comments on wanting to see a pause in the fighting represents a “slight change” in the US position.

Ms Harris said that, given the “immense scale of suffering” in Gaza, there must be “an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks”.

She called for Israel to do more to significantly increase the flow of aid into the territory.

Mr Varadkar will travel to Washington next week as part of the annual visit to meet the US president at the White House for St Patrick’s Day.

The Fine Gael leader said he will use the opportunity to put across the Irish public’s feeling about Gaza to US President Joe Biden.

“I think the remarks of Vice President Kamala Harris are very welcome,” Mr Varadkar said.

“She’s calling for a humanitarian ceasefire to be observed by both Israel and Hamas and I think that those represent a slight change in the US position.

“I hope it happens.

“Of course, I’m going to raise the issue of Gaza and Palestine with President Biden and Vice President Harris when we meet next week.

President Biden visit to the island of Ireland
US President Joe Biden and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think the Irish people would expect me to put across their feelings and views I am going to do that.

“I really hope though, that I’m going to meet them at the end of next week in the context of there being a ceasefire, because of course that will change the nature of what I need to say.

“But we’re all hoping and praying that between now and then there will be a ceasefire so that the hostages can be released, so that desperately needed food and medicine can get into Gaza, and so that we could try and work on making any temporary ceasefire a permanent one because that’s what is needed.”

Some opposition politicians have called for the high-profile White House visit to be used to push for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The SDLP has said that it would boycott the White House events over US military support for Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip, but would send a delegation to Washington to “make the case for an end to violence”.