US senator halts arms sales to Hungary for Sweden NATO bid stall

US senator halts arms sales to Hungary for Sweden NATO bid stall

'Hungary should take the actions necessary to allow Sweden into the alliance,' says Jim Risch

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Sen. Jim Risch has placed a halt on all US arms sales to Hungary for Budapest's lack of progress toward advancing Sweden's ascension to NATO, his office confirmed Wednesday.

Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement sent to Anadolu by his office that he is taking the action after Hungarian officials failed to follow through on promises made to him to advance Sweden's bid.

"For some time now, I have directly expressed my concerns to the Hungarian government regarding its refusal to move forward a vote for Sweden to join NATO," he said.

"Given promises that were made to me and others last year that this vote would be done, and the fact that it is now June and still not done, I decided that the sale of new U.S. military equipment to Hungary will be on hold. Hungary should take the actions necessary to allow Sweden into the alliance, and soon," he added.

Major US arms sales need to be approved by the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate foreign relations committees during what is known as a congressional review period.

Risch, as ranking member of the committee, can stop the State Department from executing proposed sales, including a $735 million arms package that the Washington Post newspaper said includes 24 HIMARS long-range rocket launcher batteries and more than 100 rockets and pods.

Hungary has so far not approved Sweden's NATO bid due to grievance it has about Stockholm's criticisms of its record on democracy and the rule of law.. Budapest has condemned the statements, maintaining they are false and claiming Sweden is meddling in its internal affairs.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Anadolu earlier this week that his government supports Sweden’s NATO membership, but the final decision lies with its parliament, which is taking into consideration the “insults” Hungary has faced from Stockholm.

“We never interfere in the domestic issues of other countries,” he said.

“They have accused us on many occasions ... It can be taken into consideration as interference, but it’s not only the Swedish who are doing that,” he said, alleging that the US and other European nations were meddling in Hungary’s internal affairs.

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