Pompeo, Orban Discuss US-Hungary Security Ties, European Energy Diversification

Pompeo is on a five-nation Central Europe tour that began in Hungary

USA officials are deeply troubled by Huawei's expansion in Europe, especially in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states where they believe it poses significant information security threats.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, in the joint briefing with Pompeo in Budapest, pushed back against criticism that Hungary wasn't doing enough to counter China's influence, in particular Huawei. The Trump administration, which wants to boost its partnership with Hungary and other central European countries, is warning that nations using Huawei equipment in critical infrastructure could open themselves to security risks.

The fear, said Pompeo, was that countries who rely heavily on Huawei gear are likely to be bugged by Chinese intelligence services. The warning was broad but pointedly delivered in Hungary, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and European Union member where Huawei is a major player.

The U.S. has been warning countries about the risks of Chinese telecom technology as governments choose providers for the rollout of "5G" wireless Internet, which will enable faster download speeds but also greater connectivity among devices.

"We have seen this all around the world, it also makes it more hard for America to be present", Pompeo was quoted by Reuters as saying. They get to make their own decisions.

Mike Pomeo, US Secretary of State, has made what could be interpreted as veiled threats against Central European countries that their use of Huawei networking equipment "makes it more hard for America to be present in those countries".

Szijjarto drew parallels between the Trump administration and Orban government on curbing immigration, protecting Christians around the world and support for Israel.

But the top USA diplomat is making push-back against Huawei a key theme of his trip to Europe this week, with additional stops in Poland, Slovakia, Belgium and Iceland. Over the course of the past 10 years, the officials said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and made inroads.

China has said the United States is just trying to suppress a rising competitor.

Opposition leaders said the fines, which can not be challenged in Hungarian courts, were politically motivated and meant to hinder their campaigns for the European Parliament and municipal elections later this year.

Orban's government has been targeted for criticism, including from the USA, for forcing a Budapest-based university founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros to move most of its programs to Vienna.

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