Sweden’s Leader Says He Will Meet With Orban to Advance NATO Bid

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Bowing to a Hungarian demand for negotiations over the expansion of NATO, the prime minister of Sweden on Thursday agreed to hold talks with Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orban, the last obstacle blocking the Nordic nation’s admission to the military alliance.

The decision by the Swedish leader, Ulf Kristersson, to accept an invitation from Mr. Orban to visit Budapest for talks reversed an earlier position that the future of the United States-led alliance — a bloc whose 31 member states have a total population of nearly a billion — was not something to be negotiated with Hungary, a military lightweight with only 10 million people.

A vote by Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday to accept Sweden as a member of the alliance, however, left Hungary as the only holdout and strengthened Mr. Orban’s leverage. It also intensified accusations abroad that he was effectively holding Sweden’s membership for ransom.

In a sign that Mr. Orban intended to use his leverage, Laszlo Kover, a close ally of the Hungarian prime minister and the speaker of Parliament, indicated Thursday that he was in no hurry to put the matter to a vote. Parliament is in recess and is not scheduled to return until Feb. 15.

“I don’t feel that anything is urgent for us; in fact, I don’t think an extraordinary situation has arisen,” Mr. Kover said in an interview with a pro-government news portal, Index.

The portal, like many other Hungarian media outlets, used to be independent but aligned itself firmly with the government after being taken over by a businessman loyal to Mr. Orban.

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Sweden’s Leader Says He Will Meet With Orban to Advance NATO Bid

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