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Trump invites far-right Hungarian leader Viktor Orban for talks in Washington

The Independent logo The Independent 02/05/2019 Adam Forrest
Viktor Orban wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Donald Trump has invited Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban to Washington for a “working meeting”, according to a Hungarian government spokesman.

Zoltan Kovacs tweeted on Thursday night that the country’s prime minister will travel to the US for formal talks with the US president on 13 May.

He said the pair would discuss energy security, defence cooperation, bilateral relations and regional security, explaining that the trip had been confirmed by Hungary’s foreign minister.

Mr Orban became the first national leader in the EU to endorse Trump in the 2016 election campaign. Taking office in 2010, he has made anti-immigration measures his main focus in recent years, becoming a role model for many of Europe’s far-right parties.

His ruling Fidesz Party was suspended from the mainstream centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament in March over its record on respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press and minorities’ rights.

In March Mr Trump invited Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro to the White House and said they had “many views” in common. He has also referred to his “great relationship” with the Philippines’ “strongman” president Rodrigo Duterte, inviting him to the White House in 2017.

Last November former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said he planned to work with Mr Orban in the run-up to the European Parliament elections.

The US campaigner also revealed he had visited Budapest for meeting with the leader and his aides, and suggested Hungary would make an ideal home for his right-wing populist group “The Movement”.

“I love it so much there … John McLaughlin, who is my pollster in the United States, is going to run this overall polling effort in Europe. He is also the pollster for Orban in Hungary,” Mr Bannon told the French radio network RTL.

Mr Orban will be hosting Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, who also strongly opposes immigration, later Thursday.

The Hungarian prime minister has said the EPP grouping must forge an alliance with populists and nationalists further out on the right after forthcoming EU elections. “The EPP is preparing to commit suicide and wants to tie itself to the left,” he said.

Additional reporting by AP

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