The first democratically elected Hungarian leader to visit the White House in four decades is taking home a packet of Bush administration pledges to help his ailing economy.
President Bush said Thursday the United States will provide $47.5 million in agricultural credits and loan guarantees to help Hungary recover from a drought-inflicted shortage in grain.Bush also announced during the visit of Prime Minister Jozsef Antall that he will push for international lending concessions for Hungary, and that U.S. travel restrictions on Hungary's diplomats will be lifted. In addition, Hungary will be allowed to establish a consulate in Los Angeles.
Antall made the rounds of the administration on Thursday, also visiting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, before being honored at a White House state dinner Thursday night.
In his welcoming remarks to Antall, Bush answered Hungary's request for what one administration official referred to as a "strong signal" to foreign investors. "I encourage more American businesses to find out what Hungary has to offer," the president said.
To help Hungary stabilize its economy as it moves from communism to a free-market system, Bush called on the International Monetary Fund to make lending concessions to it and other Eastern European countries.
He said the lending organization should make $5 billion available to compensate the new democracies for the burden they are suffering by supporting United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
"We understand that the loss of export markets and rising energy costs complicate your historic effort to transform a centrally planned economic system to a free-market economy," Bush told Antall.