Hungary PM Orban in Beijing for talks with Chinese President Xi

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrived in Beijing Monday for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Orban’s press chief told state news agency MTI.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s peace mission continues,” Bertalan Havasi was quoted as saying.

This is Orban’s third surprise overseas trip since Hungary took over the European Union’s rotating presidency at the beginning of July, after he traveled to Ukraine and Russia last week on what he called a “peace mission.”

His trip to Moscow drew strong rebukes from his allies.

Hungary, under right-leaning Orban, has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with some other European Union nations seeking to become less dependent on the world’s second-largest economy.

Orban’s visit also came days before a NATO summit that will address further military aid for Ukraine against what the Western defense alliance has called Russia’s “unprovoked war of aggression.”

Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, was accompanying Orban on the China trip, according to photographs on Szijjarto’s Facebook page.

The foreign ministry canceled late last week a meeting for Monday in Budapest with Germany’s foreign minister and Szijjarto, a German foreign ministry official said Friday.

Orban, a critic of Western military aid to Ukraine who has the warmest relations of any EU leader with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said last week he recognized he had no EU mandate for the trip to Moscow, but that peace could not be made “from a comfortable armchair in Brussels.”

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