Hungary will not support NATO becoming 'anti-China' bloc, minister says

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Orban and Russia's President Putin attend a press conference in Moscow

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary does not want NATO to become an "anti-China" bloc, and will not support it doing so, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

In comments on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Washington, he also said Ukraine's admission to the military alliance would weaken unity in the group.

A draft summit communique described China as a decisive enabler of Russia's war effort in Ukraine, and said Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Europe and to security. China said the communique was biased and "sowing discord".

"NATO is a defence alliance... we can't organise it into an anti-China bloc," Szijjarto told Hungarian state television in response to a question about NATO's alliance-building efforts in the Indo-Pacific.

China is an important trade and investment partner for Hungary. Other European Union member states are seeking to become less dependent on Beijing.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to discuss a potential Ukraine peace deal following visits to Kyiv and Moscow.

His talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin angered some EU leaders as the bloc is seeking to avoid high-level contacts with Moscow over its war in Ukraine.

At the NATO summit, leaders have pledged their support for Ukraine, and the draft communique reiterated support for Ukraine on its path to NATO membership.

"Ukraine's admission wouldn't strengthen but weaken the unity's alliance, as there are completely different viewpoints on their membership," Szijjarto said.

"Ukraine's NATO membership would not strengthen the alliance's defence character as well because, in practice, it would create a risk of open conflict between Russia and NATO."

(This story has been refiled to remove the repeated word 'China' in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori and Anita Komuves, Editing by Jason Hovet and Timothy Heritage)