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U.S. Senators Express Concerns Ahead Of Orban Visit, Citing Democracy Worries, Russia Ties


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.

Top Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns to U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of next week's visit by nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

In a letter to Trump made public on May 10, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cited what they called an erosion of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary and Orban’s close ties to Russia for their concerns.

Trump is scheduled to meet with Orban in Washington on May 13.

"In recent years, democracy in Hungary has significantly eroded,” the senators, led by Republican Jim Risch and Democrat Bob Menendez, wrote in the letter.

“Under Orban, the election process has become less competitive and the judiciary is increasingly controlled by the state," the letter added.

The senators also expressed concerns about the close relationship between Hungary and Russia, saying Budapest has failed to diversify its energy resources from Moscow.

They added that Hungary has allowed Russia to exploit Hungary’s visa system to evade U.S. sanctions.

The senators asked Trump to bring up the issues during meetings while at the same time underscore U.S. support for the Hungarian people.

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen also signed the letter.

Orban is a nationalist leader known for his hard-line anti-immigration stance, putting him at odds with many EU leaders. He clashed with the administration of former President Barack Obama but has had better relations with Trump.

The White House did not immediately comment on the letter.

Based on reporting by Reuters and The Washington Post
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