Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to meet with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago


Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, will fly to Mar-a-Lago on Thursday to meet with Donald Trump, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.

Orbán has enraged his Nato allies by meeting with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping en route to the alliance’s summit in Washington DC. He has also met with Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, and is said to be quietly negotiating his own ceasefire plan without consulting either the Biden administration or other EU countries.

The two men will meet at Mar-a-Lago at 7pm, a source close to Trump said. Orban’s 606 Dassault Falcon jet was one of the several international planes that flew into Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday to attend the 2024 Nato summit. As of 10.30am eastern time on Thursday, the Hungarian military plane was still parked in Maryland.

Orbán did not discuss details of his negotiations with Putin or Xi with the Biden administration. Three sources briefed on the summit preparations said that he did not ask for a bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.

“I haven’t heard directly from anybody about this meeting, I’ve heard indirectly about it as many of you have,” said Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, when asked about the meeting.

“It certainly isn’t coordinated with the Ukrainians. They’ve indicated that they have great misgivings about any effort to negotiate some kind of fake peace with Russia without the Ukrainians being a part of that effort.

“The Biden administration’s position is nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So whatever adventurism is being undertaken without Ukraine’s consent or support is not something that’s consistent with our policy.”

EU countries have complained that Orbán is negotiating without their consent as Hungary currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU.

Related: A ‘peace mission’ and a likely Trump meeting: how Hungary’s PM became the spoiler of the Nato summit

Orbán and his campaign advisers have fully backed Trump for re-election in November. His foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, told Reuters: “We see a chance for peace if President Trump is winning. We see a chance for good Hungary-US relationships if President Trump is winning.”

Orbán “wants to be the Trump guy in Europe if Trump wins the election so that then he can be … the one who can open the White House door for Europe”, a European Union diplomat told the Guardian.

Hungary will continue to hold the presidency of the Council of the EU through the end of the year, coinciding with a period when Trump could be president-elect. “So for the last month before the swearing in he can be the European person in Washington making deals for everyone,” the diplomat said.

Members of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs will hold a closed-door meeting today at noon ET with the conservative Heritage Foundation thinktank in Washington according to an email seen by the Guardian. The event is titled “on the sidelines of the Nato summit” and is focused around US and European security. Heritage regularly holds meetings with the Hungarian government foreign policy institution.

“There is a longstanding pattern of Orbán working with enemies of the western alliance system,” said Dalibor Rohac, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute thinktank in Washington. “It certainly does not serve the Hungarian interest or Nato interest.”

“He might find a receptive audience in Mar-a-Lago but they are far from a consensus on the Republican side [when it comes to Orbán]. Yesterday [Senate minority leader Mitch] McConnell delivered a very powerful speech in the Senate where he dismissed the Hungarian PM for his meeting with Putin.”

European countries have directly criticised Orbán for travelling to Moscow to speak with Putin, making him just the second EU or Nato leader to go there since the start of the war.

Sweden and several other EU countries responded by announcing they would not send ministers to government meetings linked to Hungary’s EU presidency in an act of protest against Orbán’s talks with Putin, the Swedish government said on Thursday.

“The Hungarian actions during the [EU] presidency are harmful and must have consequences. Sweden will therefore not participate on a political level during the informal government meetings in July,” Jessika Roswall, Sweden’s minister for EU affairs, said in a statement on Thursday.



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