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Putin, Orban Push For Controversial Hungarian Nuclear-Plant Expansion

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attend a joint news conference after their talks in Moscow on September 18.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have agreed to move ahead with a project to build two new reactors at Hungary's Paks nuclear-power plant.

The two men made the announcement following talks in Moscow on September 18.

"I consider [the Paks project] to be a flagship of cooperation, and we have to follow through on it," Orban said at a joint press conference following the meeting.

Putin also called for "expanding nuclear cooperation" between the two countries.

Orban noted, however, that the project faces hurdles concerning licensing, permits, and European Union regulations.

Aleksei Likhachev, head of the Rosatom state nuclear agency, said a date for the start of construction would only be set after a license was issued.

Earlier this year, Austria filed a lawsuit against the European Commission over its approval of the Paks expansion.

Austria, which has no nuclear-power plants, opposes "the use of nuclear-power plants at all levels," Austrian Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger wrote on Twitter in January.

The cost of the project is set at 12.5 billion euros ($14.6 billion), most of which will be provided by a 10-billion-euro ($11.2 billion) loan from Moscow.

Putin and Orban also discussed bilateral trade, Russian gas supplies for Hungary, and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, and U.S. News and World Report