Trump Invites Hungarian Nationalist Orban In From the Cold

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump invited a leader of European nationalism to a meeting, ending years of U.S. isolation of Hungary’s prime minister as part of efforts to shore up NATO’s eastern flank and counter Russian and Chinese influence.

Trump will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on May 13, the government in Budapest said on Thursday. Trump has already met with the other leaders from the so-called Visegrad region, which also includes Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, all former communist states that now are North Atlantic Treaty Organization members.

The meeting caps a turnaround in U.S. policy, which has previously isolated Orban, who has flouted democratic norms at home and built close ties with Russia and China. The Hungarian leader was the first European premier to publicly support Trump’s presidential bid and has praised the ‘America First’ policy, which Orban said also legitimized his own brand of nationalism.

In Washington, Trump and Orban may announce that Hungary will purchase military equipment from a U.S. supplier, according to Direkt36 news website.

During Michael Pompeo’s February visit, the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 2011, Hungary confirmed it was in talks to buy a U.S. medium-range air-defense system. The nation was also reported to have floated the idea of buying Lockheed Martin Corp. fighters once its lease of Gripen jets expires in 2026.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.