Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in western Ukraine on Monday, ahead of an EU summit aimed at unlocking aid for the war-torn country.

Relations between the two neighbors have been strained over the past few years and were further aggravated when Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban in December vetoed 50 billion euros ($55 billion) in EU aid for Kyiv.

In an effort to mend ties and "find solutions" to their differences, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested a direct meeting with Orban, and Monday's talks between Szijjarto and Kuleba in the city of Uzhhorod are intended to lay the groundwork.

Szijjarto has not visited Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive against Kyiv, although he has been to Moscow on several occasions.


Security measures were stepped up in Uzhhorod -- home to a large ethnic Hungarian community -- after a death threat against Szijjarto surfaced.

Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak will also attend the meeting.

Orban is the only EU leader who has maintained close ties with the Kremlin following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Orban expressed willingness to support Ukraine, provided the support is kept separate from the European Union's budget and reviewed annually.

The talks come just days before European Union leaders are due to convene for an extraordinary summit on Thursday to make progress on their stalled aid package for Kyiv.

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In the emotionally charged period of Polish-Ukrainian historical disputes, against the backdrop of Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine, events are taking place that build bridges between people.

In December, Orban abstained from a decision to open talks with Ukraine on joining the bloc by leaving the room when the vote was taken.

He has also called for ceasefire negotiations with Moscow, claiming that Ukraine cannot win the war.

Minority rights are another point of contention between the two countries.

More than 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live in Ukraine, almost all in the region of Transcarpathia, which belonged to Hungary before World War I.

To appease relations, the Ukrainian parliament in December passed a law to restore some language rights for national minorities.


But Budapest insists that the status of Hungarian must be restored to the situation before Ukraine passed a controversial language education law in 2017.

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