Trump Greets Hungary's Hard-Right Leader In Oval Office

Trump Greets Hungary's Hard-Right Leader In Oval Office

Asked about democratic backsliding in Hungary, Trump called Orban "a tough man", but added that he's "a respected man", too.

Speaking to media at the White House, Trump said the U.S. "relationship is very good with Hungary".

When asked whether human rights and press freedoms would be discussed at the Trump-Orban talks, a senior United States administration official with knowledge of the meeting demurred.

In September, Orban - in office since 2010 - praised Trump as "a phenomenon, an icon" among nationalists and isolationists worldwide, after Trump denounced a "globalist" view of the world in a speech at the United Nations.

Senior Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress told Trump in a letter on Friday they were concerned about Hungary's "downward democratic trajectory" and its close relationship with Russian Federation.

However, the bottom line of the meeting between Trump and Orban is something different: In Hungary, Orban governs nearly without restrictions. President Donald Trump speaks about a state of emergency from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2019. We stand in solidarity with the Hungarian people and urge you to remain true to these democratic values that have undergirded our relations with Central and Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Trump's government and his Republicans party are also divided about Hungary's prime minister. Multiculturalism, he said, "is only an illusion". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

He has also advocated restricting immigration to ensure Hungary remains a racially and culturally homogenous society.

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It was not the first time the Hungarian leader has framed migration as a problem for his country.

Orban has repeatedly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her decision to allow over a million migrants into Germany in the summer of 2015. "You've done a good job and you've kept your country safe". In a 2015 interview with POLITICO, he suggested the bloc's leaders instead focus more on strengthening the EU's external border. Sens. James Risch, R-Idaho, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said that under Orban, elections have become less competitive, the judiciary is increasingly controlled by the state and press freedom has declined.

"You have been great with respect to Christian communities", Trump said.

"When we see that culture endangered, a red light flashes in our mind and we take immediate action", he said.

There has been an upturn in U.S. -Hungary connections in recent months, embodied, such as in the bilateral defense cooperation agreement signed in early April along with an earlier announcement about Hungarian plans to purchase medium-range missiles from American resources to improve the country's air defense program.

In a letter ahead of the visit, several Democratic lawmakers said Trump should postpone their meeting until Orban "returns his country to the path of democracy and respect for human rights".

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