WATCH: State Department defends ambassador in Hungary amid interference accusations

The State Department came to the defense of its ambassador in Budapest Thursday after Hungary’s foreign minister accused U.S. Ambassador David Pressman of trying to interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs.

Watch the briefing in the player above.

Earlier Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto lashed out at comments in Politico this week in which Pressman referred to Hungary’s approach to the war in neighboring Ukraine as pushing “policies endorsed by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

Szijjarto said it is “completely irrelevant what (Pressman) or any other ambassador thinks about the domestic political process in Hungary, because it has nothing to do with him.”

On Thursday, State Department Spokesman Ned Price responded.

Hungary is an important NATO ally,” Price said. “That is not to say that we see eye to eye on every issue. Of course, there are many issues where we do have divergences of opinion, or just flat out disagreements. Ambassador Pressman is there in Budapest to represent our interests, our values. When we do have those disagreements, he can convey that to our Hungarian allies,” Price said.

Since taking office, Pressman has been vocal about a growing wave of anti-American sentiment in Hungary, and on the reluctance of Orban’s government to join the European Union in imposing sanctions on Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

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Price also weighed in on sports and politics as the IOC stepped up efforts to explain its position to help Russian athletes qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics amid a backlash from Ukraine and its allies.

The International Olympic Committee’s move last week to map a pathway to Paris for athletes from Russia and Belarus who have not actively supported the war provoked strong objections from Ukraine, which wants to see those countries remain banned from most international sports.

Price also repeated the Biden administration’s concern over Sudan’s release of a man convicted in the 2008 killing of a U.S. diplomat and embassy employee in a drive-by shooting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

“The United States strongly condemns the unilateral January 30th release by Sudanese authorities of Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, the individual convicted of the 28 killing of our colleagues John Granville and Abdel Rahman Abbas.

The two men were shot while returning home early in the morning on Jan. 1, 2008, from a New Year’s Eve party.

Abu Zaid was captured weeks after the shooting. He was convicted and sentenced to death for murder.

“The Sudanese claim that the Granville family had extended forgiveness is false,” Price said. “We call on the Sudanese government to exercise all available legal means to reverse this decision and to re-arrest Abu Zaid,” he said.