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DONALD TRUMP heaped praise on Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban as he welcomed him to the White House yesterday.
The US president admitted Mr Orban, who is widely accused of anti-semitism, was controversial, like himself, but claimed he was “respected all over Europe” and had “kept Hungary safe.”
The pair met to discuss trade deals in arms and energy as the United States seeks to expand interests in central Europe.
Mr Orban has been criticised for his hard-line approach to immigration and for trampling over human rights and press freedom in Hungary.
He has been snubbed by previous US presidents, including George W Bush. His visit was the first by a Hungarian prime minister since 2005.
Democrat senator for Illinois Dick Durbin branded the meeting “a betrayal to American values abroad” and said Mr Trump “clearly has a dangerous affinity for authoritarian figures over our democratic allies.”
When quizzed on Mr Orban’s record, Mr Trump said: “I know he’s a tough man, but he’s a respected man, and he’s done the right thing, according to many people, on immigration.”
However US Democrats Eliot Engel, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, and Marcy Kaptur co-chair of the congressional Hungarian caucus slammed Mr Orban in a joint statement.
They said he “represents so many things that are antithetical to core American values,” criticising Mr Orban for a “rollback of democracy” and the use of “anti-semitic and xenophobic tropes.”
They warned the Hungarian leader has “suppressed independent media and academic freedom in an effort to consolidate his increasingly autocratic rule.”
The pair said they were “troubled” to see Mr Trump meet a man who disregards values including the promotion of democracy and human rights.
Mr Orban said Hungary was “proud to stand together” with the US “on fighting illegal migration, on terrorism and protecting Christian communities all around the world.”
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