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Nov 21, 2018

Hungary builds relations with US over energy security, defense and providing aid for persecuted Christians

Levente Magyar said bilateral talks with the US are now “friendly and cooperative” following the appointment of Donald Trump as President

Hungary’s relations with the United States have improved dramatically since the appointment of Donald Trump as President, underlined by a two-day official visit to Washington by Levente Magyar, foreign ministry state secretary.

Magyar met US government officials to discuss energy security in central and eastern Europe, the renewal of the US-Hungarian defense cooperation and aid for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

The state secretary said bilateral talks are now “friendly and cooperative” following the appointment of Trump and meetings with Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and the US delegation ran smoothly.

Magyar said energy security talks focused on Hungary’s aim to diversify its energy supplies. “Our main goals have been the same for 30 years, because Hungary’s dependence on one resource of natural gas [from Russia] is unhealthy,” he said.

Hungary has so far been working on diversifying its access to natural gas by drawing on its own resources in cooperation with its neighbors, but without substantial help from the EU or the US, he said.

“Right now, curbing central Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is not dependent on Hungary,” Magyar said, adding that Hungary counted on US help to promote political decision-making and economic processes that result in other countries in the region taking the necessary steps to achieve energy independence.

The state secretary also held important meeting regarding the legal framework surrounding a new defense cooperation agreement that “renews current regulations while serving both countries’ interests and fully respecting Hungarian sovereignty”.

Finally, Magyar held talks on coordinating US and Hungarian aid efforts for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. “Helping Christians in the region aligns with the Hungarian government’s aim to deliver aid to where the trouble is in contradistinction to the mainstream European rhetoric of supporting and boosting illegal migration,” he said.

Besides Wess Mitchell, the US delegation also included Fiona Hill, a senior director of the National Security Council, Kurt Volker, the US Special Representative for Ukraine, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Theodore Garrish, an assistant secretary at the Energy Department.

Magyar also met members of the US-Hungarian Business Council during his visit.