Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore held a one-hour working meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates this morning.

Mr Gilmore said they discussed overseas aid, the EU budget and the campaign to end polio.

He said Mr Gates also expressed strong hope that Ireland would make a full economic recovery.

In a press conference afterwards, the Tánaiste said Mr Gates is a significant person in the world of business and a "friend of Ireland".

Mr Gates also met Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings and was to call on President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.

He is visiting a number of European countries ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mr Gates told RTÉ News that if we knew the rest of Europe was strong it wouold be easier to say that the Irish economic recovery could come at the short end of a two, three or four year time frame.

He said that compared to countries where their ability to collect taxes is not as good as Ireland and how they got used to spending money this country has a lot of strengths but it is a little hard to predict when the country will be back in a good story position.

In an interview for the new Morning Edition programme to be broadcast next Monday, Mr Gates said Ireland suffered from a pretty extreme real estate problem and took a certain approach on to how the banks were bailed out after that bubble and the country took a gigantic hit as a percentage of GDP.

He said the basic qualities of the workforce and the attractions as a place to live is still shining through and while the country had to make cuts and trade-offs slowly but surely those strengths are showing through.

Mr Gates said Ireland is a good example that can get through and austerity, tough as it is can come to an end.

Morning Edition will air from 9am Monday to Friday from 28 January.