But he raised concerns about the country’s energy ties with Moscow and urged Hungarian officials not to support the TurkStream pipeline, part of the Kremlin’s plans to bypass Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe.
Hungary gets most of its gas from Russia and its main domestic source of electricity is the Paks nuclear power plant where Russia’s Rosatom is involved in a £10bn expansion.
But Secretary Pompeo said: “Hungarians know all too well from their history that an authoritarian Russia will never be a friend to the freedom and sovereignty of smaller nations.”
Hungary is the first stop in a trip by the US diplomat to central Europe that also includes Slovakia and Poland and is part of what administration officials say is an effort to make up for a lack of US engagement in the region that opened the door to more Chinese and Russian influence.
He said that the US was particularly concerned about a growing Chinese presence in the region and warned European allies against using technology from Huawei in their communications networks, saying it would make it more difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.
Hungary is one of the European governments that is most enthusiastic about Chinese investment but Secretary Pompeo said he had discussed “the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary” in talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
He said: ”We want to make sure we identify to them the opportunities and the risks of using that equipment.
“We have seen this all around the world, it also makes it more difficult for America to be present.
“If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”
Huawei denies engaging in intelligence work for any government.
It says its technologies serve 70 percent of Hungarians and that it cooperates with most telecoms providers in Hungary, including state-owned enterprises.
Mr Szijjarto brushed off US concerns over Russia and China, saying Budapest was fulfilling its obligations to western allies as a member of the Nato military alliance.
He said: ”When it comes to co-operation with Russia or co-operation with the People’s Republic of China that does not harm us being reliable as a Nato ally.”