Bush’s visit has a symbolic value

Visits

Bush has only made political announcements on his visit, and had no words on economic questions or on the visa issue. Hungarian President László Sólyom emphasized that to the successful fight against terrorism it is important to observe the rules of international law and to respect human rights. He has also mentioned the visa relations, but Bush simply did not react to such questions.

The president's day-long trip comes after he attended a US-EU summit in Austria. His plane touched down in Budapest on Wednesday evening, where he was met by Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz and US ambassador George Herbert Walker. He was greeted by Hungarian President László Sólyom on Thursday morning, before the pair reviewed Hungarian troops. Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956 after a national uprising and subsequent call from Prime Minister Imre Nagy for the country to pull out of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Thousands of people died in the ensuing crackdown by Soviet forces, while hundreds of thousands more fled the country. In 1958, Soviet authorities announced Nagy had been executed.

Mr Bush's visit is four months early - the official commemoration is not until October but the US president is unable to attend then. The symbolic value of a people rising up against a dictatorial regime is close to his heart, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe in Budapest. But Hungarians underline that they opposed the Soviet power alone, and their appeals for help from the outside world went unheeded, our correspondent adds. During Bush's visit, Hungary - which joined the EU two years ago - is expected to raise the long-standing demand for it and other recent EU members for visa-free travel to the US. Hungarian PM Ferenc Gyurcsany said he had discussed with Bush demands to ease visa restrictions for Hungarians visiting the US. Hungary is one of nine of the 10 new EU member states that do not enjoy the visa waivers granted to most of the bloc's 15 older member states. (BBC, Ng2)

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