Donald Trump meets with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban at the White House

Donald Trump meets with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban at the White House

Today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and US President Donald Trump meet in Washington to discuss bilateral relations. Orban’s trip

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Photo: Reuters

Today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and US President Donald Trump meet in Washington to discuss bilateral relations.

Orban’s trip follows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Budapest in February, which centred around limiting Russian influence and supporting Ukraine. Both of these meetings have drawn criticism, though, as some US government officials do not want to engage Mr Orban at all, given his authoritarian leanings and close relationship with Moscow. Indeed, leading up to today’s meeting, Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee condemned the Hungarian prime minister’s “downward democratic trajectory”, advising against his meeting with the US president.

Nonetheless, Mr Trump will go ahead with the meeting and his statements on Mr Orban’s conduct today will be important

Trump will undoubtedly face harsh rebuke if he takes a soft line with PM Orban, a Eurosceptic who has threatened to block NATO and EU cooperation on Ukraine. Strong language has repeatedly failed to change Mr Orban’s course, but expect Trump to attempt to leverage unique commonalities—both leaders are populists who have spoken endearingly of one another in the past—to persuade the strongman to bolster NATO unity in the face of Russian aggression. If successful, this unconventional approach would be a major victory for Trump’s foreign policy ahead of elections in 2020.

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