Trump praises Orban as right-wing leader visits

After years on the outs, Trump welcomes Hungary's far-right nationalist to the White House

President Trump is meeting with Hungary's far-right prime minister Monday, something the last two US presidents have not done.

Trump projected an air of kinship with Orban. "One of the pro-government publications published a magazine that had a cover featuring the head of the Jewish federation". Orban was essentially running a political platform on the basis of an anti-immigration message long before Trump.

"Viktor Orban has done a tremendous job in so many different ways", Trump told reporters ahead of Oval Office talks with the controversial prime minister.

Trump gave Orban a warm welcome at the White House, where they were planning discussions on European regional issues, NATO, energy and trade. The timing of the meeting was nearly a humiliation.

Then again, Orban got to hear a cascade of praise from the U.S. president. "I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing", Trump said at the time.

"Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that's OK, that's OK". "That's okay", the president said.

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Orban was the first European leader to endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The Republican chairman and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote Trump a letter Friday, saying that "democracy in Hungary has significantly eroded". The 54-year-old prime minister of Hungary added: "We believe that a large number of Muslims inevitably leads to parallel societies, because Christian and Muslim society will never unite". This can be seen in the fact that prominent Hungarian opposition politician Peter Marki-Zay was received at the US State Department on the same day.

The meeting could also be seen as an attempt to discourage Hungary from strengthening ties with Russian Federation and China.

KELEMEN: Speaking via Skype, Pardavi says the Orban government has been passing laws that have no place in a democracy. Shattuck is also the former president of the Central European University in Hungary. Hungary's rapprochement with Russian Federation and China and its economic cooperation with both major powers run counter to the interests of the US. Late past year, the State Department said Hungary denied a USA request to extradite two suspected Russian arms dealers and sent the men to Russia instead. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Despite this, Trump's government seems determined to make a fresh start with Hungary. In Orban's case this could mean that Hungary is going to buy United States weapons worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. He has seriously damaged his country's democracy for many years, if not decades to come.

Trump said he and Orban would discuss trade and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation issues as he brushed off a question from a reporter about democratic backsliding in Hungary. He may dream of achieving Orban's hold on power and unrestricted domestic political options.

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