Putin to visit Hungary February 2 – Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Budapest on February 2 for talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Hungarian government said Thursday, January 19.

The controversial Orban is a major admirer of US President-elect Donald Trump, due to be inaugurated on Friday, who has said he wants to improve relations with Putin.

Orban's chief-of-staff Janos Lazar told reporters that the two will discuss "current socio-political and economic questions" in an "important" but not "exceptional" meeting.

He said 2017 "will be an important year in foreign politics, not just because of the new US president or Brexit. In place of multilateral cooperation, comes an era of bilateral cooperation."

Putin visited Orban in Budapest in 2015, his first trip to the European Union (EU) after Russia annexed Crimea the previous year. Orban visited Moscow last year.

The rightwing Orban has in the past called for EU sanctions on Russia to be lifted.

Orban, who opposes immigration and whose revamp of state institutions has raised concerns about democratic norms in the EU member state, enthusiastically welcomed Trump's election victory.

"We are living in great days and great times," Orban said in November.

Putin and Orban are expected to discuss Russia's planned expansion of Hungary's only nuclear power plant and other energy issues, with Hungary highly dependent on Russian gas imports.

The visit has not yet been confirmed by Moscow. – Rappler.com