US Senator Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for next year's White House race, has told RTÉ News that it was 'very exciting' to hear about his Irish roots.

Senator Obama also said the next US president would have an opportunity to forge a new kind of relationship with the rest of the world.

Mr Obama is trailing Hillary Clinton in national polls to win the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential race. But in the early caucus state of Iowa, the race is much closer.

The senator is campaigning on a message of opposition to the war in Iraq and a policy of universal healthcare.

Speaking to RTÉ News in Iowa, he said the war in Iraq had been a 'failure of unilateral ideology' and that the US needed the rest of the world to solve problems, just as the rest of the world needed the US.

He said there was an opportunity for the next president to see a new kind of international relationship forged.

Regarding his recently discovered roots in Moneygall, Co Offaly, the senator said he was always aware he had Irish blood but found this connection very exciting. He said he would love to visit the area in the future.

Read Robert Shortt's essay hot from the Iowa campaign trail