The United States State Department held a telephonic press briefing about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit to Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw, Brussels and Reykjavik. The background discussion on Friday was joined by two senior administration officials.
The State Department officially confirmed on Thursday that Pompeo visits Hungary on Monday. According to the press release, “he will meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Defense Minister Tibor Benko to discuss a range of issues in the U.S.-Hungary bilateral relationship, including defense cooperation, energy and regional security, support for Ukraine, and ways to counter Russian and Chinese influence and strengthen the Western alliance. The Secretary will also meet with civil society leaders”.
One of the senior administration officials said at the teleconference that Pompeo will discuss with Hungarian officials “our ongoing efforts to bolster the security relationship, to counter Russian aggression, strengthen NATO deterrence”, the defence cooperation agreement (DCA) – according to a recent WSJ article and Hungarian press information, Orban refuses to sign it -, air and missile defense. The secretary will also “acknowledge Hungary’s role in Afghanistan and the D-ISIS coalition”.
Regarding energy diversification, Pompeo will “Hungary to engage more robustly on completion of Krk Island for LNG import as well as the BRUA pipeline and discourage Hungary from support for TurkStream. We will also discuss regional cooperation and stability”. According to the senior official, the secretary “will make clear our support for Visegrad Four and the Three Seas Initiative as platforms to push back on Chinese and Russian influence in the region and press Hungarian leaders to drop their block of NATO engagement with Ukraine”.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told MTI that Pompeo’s visit demonstrated that Hungary is a trusted NATO ally. Hungary’s political relations with the US have been improving since a Republican administration entered office, Szijjarto said. “One could say that our political relations are slowly reaching the level of [our] economic and defense cooperation,” he said, adding that this is clearly reflected by the fact that a US secretary of state is paying a visit to Hungary after eight years.
Hungarian investigative website Direkt36 reported on Saturday that according to their information, an agreement about the DCA is already close; if they can reach a satisfactory agreement on sovereignty issues, the Hungarian government is open for compromise on the less important issues and Hungary also plans to buy a missile system.
Source: Hungary Journal, MTI