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Hungary’s Orban to meet with Trump, not Biden, on visit to US courting foreign policy

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expected to visit former President Trump at his Florida home of Mar-a-Lago on Friday but is not scheduled to meet with President Biden or visit the White House during his trip courting potential foreign policy in the United States. 

The visit was first reported last week by The New York Times. 

Orbán’s trip to the U.S. comes without an invitation from the White House, according to The Guardian. The Hungarian prime minister is expected to speak at a panel with the leader of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation on Thursday before heading to Trump’s West Palm Beach estate. 

Orbán, who has been in office since 2010, has promoted what he calls “illiberal democracy” and has been criticized by international observers, including the U.S. State Department, for leading an increasingly autocratic system in Hungary, including allegations that he has rolled back minority rights, seized control of the judiciary and media and manipulated the country’s election system to remain in power, according to the Associated Press. 
 

HUNGARY’S ORBAN SAYS TRUMP’S COMEBACK AS PRESIDENT ‘ONLY SERIOUS CHANCE’ FOR END OF UKRAINE WAR

Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez, questioned in a 2023 op-ed, “Why is the Biden administration funding agitation against Hungary, a NATO ally with a pro-American population?” As he put it, “Hungary may sit strategically at the crossroads of Europe, but what irritates the liberals in the White House is that its government stands up for Western values.”

Some American conservative commentators have championed Orbán for standing against the European Union on mass migration and vowing border security. In what some on the right celebrate as protecting family values, Orbán exempted women with four children from paying income tax for life in 2019, the BBC reported.

Orbán and Trump have long been allies, and Trump regularly praises the right-wing populist politician in his campaign speeches. The two met in August 2022 at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club when Orbán traveled to the U.S. to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Texas.

Trump meets with Orban at the Oval Office

In April 2023, when charges were filed in the first of Trump’s four criminal cases, Orbán posted a message of support for Trump urging him to “keep on fighting.” Trump said in early 2022 that he was giving his “complete support and endorsement” to Orbán’s reelection campaign that year.

HUNGARIAN PM PICKS A SIDE AFTER MANHATTAN GRAND JURY INDICTS TRUMP: ‘KEEP ON FIGHTING’

Orban at an event in Budapest

Amid some concern that Orbán is lobbying the U.S. on behalf of Russia, Katalin Cseh, a member of the European Parliament representing Hungary’s opposition Momentum party, told The Guardian, “If Trump really was the China hawk he claims to be, he would be grilling Orbán about cozying up to Beijing.” 

“But it seems Trump is more interested in cozying up to authoritarians himself,” she said, according to the outlet, adding that “they could even be swapping notes on how to undermine NATO to suit Putin’s interests.” 

The trip comes as Sweden on Thursday formally joined NATO, ending decades of post-World War II neutrality following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine despite objections from NATO members Turkey and Hungary. Orbán earlier this year said in a speech that he would welcome a Trump return to the White House to “make peace here in the eastern half of Europe.” 

The U.S. ambassador in Budapest, David Pressman, however, surmised in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year that the Hungarian government was pursuing a “fantasy” foreign policy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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