The meeting between Trump and Orban was a friendly one. Both leaders expressed their mutual admiration, with Trump praising Orban’s stance on immigration in particular.
Trump said he and Orbán would discuss trade and NATO issues as he brushed off a question from a reporter about democratic backsliding in Hungary.
“Don’t forget they’re a member of NATO, and a very good member of NATO,” Trump said.
Administration officials say the invitation to the White House for talks — the first for a Hungarian prime minister in years — is part of a concerted strategy to try and re-engage Central European nations as Russia and China gain more influence in the region.
Orbán was largely iced out during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both concerned about the steps he took to consolidate power and block independent media. He last visited the White House for one-on-one meetings in 2001, during his first stint as prime minister, but was refused an Oval Office meeting with Bush.
Since then, he’s adopted a more stridently nationalist tone — including calls to create in Hungary a homogeneous society that denies access to migrants.
For his part, Orbán reminded reporters “that so many Hungarians contributed to the tremendous progress of the United States.”
“We are proud to stand together with the United States on fighting against illegal migration, on terrorism, and to protect and help the Christian communities all around the world,” Orbán added.