Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met with the US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington DC.

Mr Varadkar did not mention gay rights during a speech at the event.

However it is understood he did talk about the matter during a private conversation with Mr Pence.

Mr Pence invited Mr Varadkar and his partner Matt to visit his home.

In a break with protocol, Mr Pence's officials did not allow media attend the traditional St Patrick's event at his Naval Observatory residence.

The move came after Mr Varadkar stated he was going to raise the issue of LGBT rights with the vice-president, who has faced criticism for his stance on the issue.

Media were only permitted to capture the arrival of Mr Varadkar at today's event.

Mr Varadkar yesterday expressed disappointment at the media ban.

He said he would have preferred if the cameras were allowed in to document their comments but added: "It allows us maybe to have a frank conversation that's easier to have without the media present."

As the men exchanged greetings today, Mr Pence ignored questions from reporters as to why the engagement was private. 

Mr Varadkar said he raised the issue of equal rights for women and the LGBT community both in Ireland and the US during his private meeting today with Mr Pence.

He also said he had had a good meeting the Pence family.

"We had a really, really good breakfast this morning with Mike Pence, his wife and his family, got to meet his mother.

"His mother really knows Ireland very well. Her father was born in Ireland," he said.

Mr Varadkar said Mr Pence's mother, who was born in Ireland, had recited "the rhyme Humpty Dumpty as Gaeilge."

Mr Varadkar said that the Pences were aware of his background and had said that he and his partner would be welcome to visit.

"They were very well-briefed. They knew about my personal story, they knew that my partner was living in Chicago and they said that both Matt and I would be welcome to visit their home in future, so I thought that was a very nice gesture.

"There are so many ifs and maybes, first of all I have to survive another year in my current office and, secondly, Matt is not terribly keen to attend official functions but you never know." he added.

During his speech Mr Varadkar thanked Mr Pence for the warmth of his hospitality.

The Taoiseach also raised Mr Pence's Irish heritage, trade between the two countries, and how important US support was to the Good Friday Agreement.

"That Agreement has stood the test of time," Mr Varadkar said.

"There have been bumps in the road, some serious, but the United States has always been by our side," he added.

Additional reporting by PA