Pompeo’s Central Europe trip to focus on Russia, China influence

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Hungary at the start of a five-country European tour that administration officials say will focus on opposition to the growing influence of Russia and China in Central Europe. Pompeo met in Budapest with Hungary’s right-wing populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, and other senior officials to stress the importance of promoting democracy and the rule of law. Washington sees those issues as key to countering Russian and Chinese moves to sow discord in the European Union and NATO, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Ahead of the talks, the officials said that Pompeo was to specifically point to Central Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and the presence of the Chinese telecom firm Huawei, particularly in Hungary. U.S. officials are concerned by Huawei’s expansion in Europe, especially in NATO member states where they believe the Chinese firm poses significant information-security threats.

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