Szijjártó expects 'new chapter' in Hungary-U.S. relations


With the arrival of Colleen Bell, the new U.S. ambassador to Hungary, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is expecting to open a “new chapter” in the political cooperation between the two countries, Szijjártó said on public television this morning.

According to the minister, the cooperation between the two countries has been "so far burdened with open issues", but it can once again be "restored to a level of smooth economic and defense cooperation". He believes that the arrival of Bell, who is replacing Chargé D'Affaires, André Goodfriend, the two countries can now focus on the future. Szijjártó said, after meeting Bell, that she indicated a "readiness and openness to considerably improve political cooperation".

The minister added that the new Hungarian ambassador to the United States, Réka Szemerkényi, is expected to arrive in Washington in mid-February.

Tensions had been growing between Hungary and the United States since mid October, when it was revealed that six Hungarians were denied entry to the United States on suspicion of corruption. All six people are government employees or affiliated with the government, Goodfriend said, but, citing privacy laws, he refused to give details, despite Hungarian government entreaties. While he did not name the officials, tax chief Vida Ildikó admitted that she was one of the people to whom Goodfriend was referring.

Vida was preparing to sue Goodfriend on charges he libeled her when speaking about corruption in Hungary, but it now seems that suit will be dropped.

The United States reported that it would not withdraw the diplomatic immunity of Goodfriend and Levente Magyar, state secretary of the Foreign Ministry, told journalists that Vida's lawsuit against Goodfriend will not take place and that the Hungarian government regarded the case as closed.

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