Politics

Hungary’s Orban Will Visit Trump in Florida After NATO Summit

Viktor Orban in Washington, DC, on July 9. Photographer: Bredan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Photographer: Brendan Smialowski)

(Bloomberg) -- Former President Donald Trump will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Florida on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter, less than a week after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The visit is likely to fan concerns that the Hungarian leader is working as an intermediary between Putin and Trump.

Trump and Putin professed a fondness for one another during the US president’s first term - often garnering bipartisan criticism. More recently, the Republican leader has said he believed he could convince Putin to end his war in Ukraine and release Americans detained in Russia if he were elected to a second term.

Orban will travel to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after the conclusion of the NATO summit in Washington. His visit to Moscow became a central point of discussion at the gathering, where other allies pledged additional air defenses for Ukraine in its continuing campaign against the full-scale Russian invasion that began in 2022. 

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has not asked the Hungarian leader to lay the groundwork for some sort of Ukraine-Russia peace deal, according to one of the people familiar with the Orban visit, who was granted anonymity to discuss it. The person described the visit, which will take place days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, as more of an informal get-together.

Orban also paid a visit this week to President Xi Jinping in China, following a trip to Azerbaijan earlier this month.

Trump campaign spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for the Hungarian government didn’t immediately comment.

Hungary took over the European Union’s rotating presidency July 1. EU officials have criticized Orban’s travels, arguing they could undermine the 27-member bloc’s positions on global issues.

Earlier: Orban’s Shuttle Diplomacy Angers EU and Whiplashes Allies 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday that Orban “made it clear when he came to Moscow that he didn’t go there on behalf of NATO.” 

“Different NATO allies interact with Moscow in different ways,” he added.

The Hungarian leader and Trump have cultivated a close relationship, with Orban visiting Mar-a-Lago in March. Trump feted him with a tour of his residence, dinner with former first Lady Melania Trump, an hour-long meeting with senior aides, and musical performance by a band covering Roy Orbison songs.

President Joe Biden seized on that meeting at a subsequent political rally in Philadelphia, saying Orban “doesn’t think democracy works” and was “looking for dictatorship.”

The Biden administration has criticized Orban over his friendly relations with Putin, as well as legislation in Hungary that the State Department warned could “intimidate and punish” critics of Orban’s government.

(Updates with description of visit, in sixth paragraph.)

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