Pompeo Visits Nationalist Hungarian PM To Discuss Russia, China

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban has made

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban has made"zero tolerance for immigration a main theme of his premiership

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is pictured next to a scuplture of former US President Ronald Reagan at the Liberty square (Szabadsag) in Budapest, Hungary, Feb. 11, 2019.

Pompeo will specifically point to Central Europe's reliance on Russian energy and the presence of the Chinese high-tech telecom firm Huawei, particularly in Hungary, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss Pompeo's travel and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The US and its Western allies believe Huawei's gear could be used for espionage, and see its expansion into central Europe as a way to gain a foothold in the European Union market.

Pompeo made the comments in Budapest on the first leg of a five-nation European tour during which he said he would raise American concerns about China and Russia's growing influence in central Europe.

The fear, said Pompeo, was that countries who rely heavily on Huawei gear are likely to be bugged by Chinese intelligence services. It says its technologies serve 70 per cent of Hungarians and that it co-operates with most telecoms providers in Hungary, including state-owned enterprises.

"It also makes it more hard for America to be present", Pompeo said.

"We have an obligation to share this with them, and we will do so", Pompeo said.

"We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation", he said, adding that he had also warned of "the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary".

Budapest's nationalist government, like Poland's largely isolated politically in the European Union, hopes to buy mid-range air defence capabilities from the United States.

Pompeo will take the same message about Huawei to his next stop, Slovakia, on Tuesday, before heading to Poland, where he will participate in a conference on the future of the Middle East expected to focus on Iran.

Speaking at a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday, Pompeo suggested that companies who do business with Huawei could be stopped from working with U.S. agencies or companies out of security concerns.

"Cooperation with Russian Federation or China that does not harm us", he added, explaining that any such economic ties do not make Hungary a less reliable North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that women who have four children would never have to pay income tax again on Sunday. He insisted that Budapest can have transparent relations with Moscow and Beijing and the West, and said it was an "enormous hypocrisy" that Hungary is singled out for its ties with Moscow.

"So numerous concerns that are voiced are things that have happened in the absence of America being engaged", he told reporters.

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