Broadcasters: NO USE Digital: NO USE CANADA. NO USE AUTRALIA BROADCASTER WEBSITES. NO USE ABC AMERICA, FOX, CNN, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO, BBC AMERICA, NBC, OR THIER DIGITAL/MOBILE PLATFORMS. For Reuters customers only.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a trip to Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - and it may be coming at a crucial time for American influence in the region.
[SOUNDBITE SEC. OF STATE MIKE POMPEO]: 'Too often in the recent past the United States was absent from central Europe. That's unacceptable.'
Despite those countries being members of NATO, the influence of geopolitical rivals China and Russia is encroaching.
The White House is especially concerned about the fact that Russia dominates Hungary's energy sector, and it's getting stronger.
[SOUNDBITE SEC. OF STATE MIKE POMPEO]: 'We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in NATO.'
And on China: Pompeo has already spent part of this trip warning about the influence of Huawei's foothold in the region.
That's the telecom giant Washington alleges may have ties to Chinese intelligence services.
The renewed interest from the U.S. in these countries comes as Poland and Hungary find themselves increasingly isolated from the European Union on civil rights and rule of law concerns.