Sat, 25 May 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump is due to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House later on May 13 amid criticism and calls by some U.S. lawmakers for Trump to cancel the meeting.

Orban is a nationalist leader who has often had conflicts with the European Union over his anti-immigration campaigns and judicial reforms. He clashed with the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over what critics said was an erosion of democratic values by his government.

Ahead of the planned meeting, senior Republican and Democratic members of Congress told Trump they were concerned about Hungary's 'downward democratic trajectory.'

In a letter to Trump on May 10, the senators also said they were very concerned about the close relationship between Hungary, a NATO partner, and Russia. They said Hungary has failed to diversify its energy resources from Moscow and allowed Russia to exploit its visa system to evade U.S. sanctions.

Among those signing the letter were Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, the panel's top Democrat.

Several Democratic members of the House of Representatives, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, have called on Trump to cancel his meeting with Orban.

A senior administration official told reporters last week that Orban's visit was part of a Trump administration strategy of re-engagement in Central and Eastern Europe.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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