Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó held talks on Hungarian gas import diversification opportunities with U.S. Secretary of State for Energy Rick Perry on Wednesday in Washington.

In a telephone statement to Hungarian new agency MTI on Thursday morning, Mr. Szijjártó said he had asked the American minister to use his influence to assure that Exxon-Mobil begins the extraction of natural gas from the Black Sea gas field it possesses jointly with Austrian energy company OMV.

“Energy supply is a key issue in Central Europe, and accordingly also in Hungary, and to Hungary successfully acquiring the quantity of natural gas required to operate industry and meet consumer demand from as many sources as possible is an issue of national security and sovereignty”, he stated. “Hungary has introduced all of the measures necessary to become considerably independent from the gas imports which it currently acquires almost exclusively from Russia”, Mr. Szijjártó said. “The next step in diversification now depends on one of Hungary’s NATO and European Union allies”, he pointed out.

“Because the rights to the extraction of natural gas from the Black Sea gas field in Romania is currently owned by a consortium made up of ExxonMobil and OMV. It is in Hungary’s clear strategic interests for the consortium to make the necessary investment decisions to enable the extraction of the gas, and also that it should be able to purchase some of that gas”, the Minister said.

“If this opportunity is created, then gas could flow towards Hungary along the pipeline that Romania had already begun constructing from the Black Sea, and would reach Hungary via the Romanian-Hungarian gas interconnector through which the neighbouring country has also begun to enable two-way traffic”, he stated.

In addition to the U.S. Secretary of State for Energy, Mr. Szijjártó also met with the State department’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell, as well as with foreign ministers from several countries present in the U.S. capital, including Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Bosnian Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.