- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2019

President Trump praised Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orban, for his tough stance on immigration in the first White House visit by a Hungarian prime minister in 14 years.

“Probably, like me, a little controversial,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Orban at the White House. “But that’s OK. You’ve done a good job, and you’ve kept your country safe.”

Mr. Orban is a nationalist whose assertion of a new form of government, or “illiberal” democracy, has alarmed some in the West, saying his efforts to tilt the courts and press in his favor smack of authoritarian rule.

He’s tangled with the European Union and pushed anti-migrant policies, including a barbed-war border fence amid the 2015 Middle East refugee crisis. His approach has drawn comparisons to Mr. Trump’s push for a border wall.

“I know he’s a tough man, but he’s a respected man,” Mr. Trump said. “And he’s done the right thing, according to many people, on immigration.”

The president said European countries who’ve done things a “different way” than Hungary are having problems with migration.

For his part, Mr. Orban suggested voters have signed off on his policies in elections.

The stated purpose of Mr. Orban’s visit is to recognize his nation’s 20th anniversary as a NATO member and discuss a range of issues, including cybersecurity and trade.

Mr. Orban said he wants to strengthen his alliance with the U.S. and compare notes on their approaches to issues at home and abroad.

“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,” Mr. Orban said.

Mr. Trump praised Mr. Orban on that last part, saying he put a “block up” on behalf of Christian communities.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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