Hungary's Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy says his country will support the United States in a war against Iraq, even without a United Nations resolution. Mr. Medgyessy made the comments in an interview with VOA shortly before leaving for Washington for talks with President George W. Bush.

Speaking in Hungary's gothic Parliament building near the Danube River, Prime Minister Medgyessy said he prefers a peaceful solution to the dispute over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

But he warned that Hungary, which joined NATO in 1999, has a responsibility to support a U.S.-led attack, if necessary.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Prime Minister made clear his country wants to send a message to other European allies to back American military action against Iraq, even without U.N. support.

"First of all let us assume that the Security Council will pass that resolution," said the prime minister. "But if not, in that case we will still strongly support the United States in their efforts."

Iraq is expected to be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Medgyessy meets with President George W. Bush Friday in Washington.

The meeting is scheduled two weeks before a NATO summit and amid criticism of Hungary for allegedly not keeping promises it made when it joined NATO three years ago.

Last week, the U.S. foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs said Hungary could have been expelled from NATO for not making needed army reforms, for continuing to make territorial claims in neighboring countries, and for refusing to send combat troops to Afghanistan.

Mr. Medgyessy said his recently-elected Socialist-led government will show the United States that the former Communist country can be a trusted ally.

The prime minister said he believes he can win back Washington's trust, despite recent revelations that he worked for Hungary's feared counter-intelligence service under Communism.

"I believe that at that time this served the interests of the country; I do not think that it was a mistake," said Mr. Medgyessy.

Analysts say Mr. Medgyessy's support for the U.S. position on Iraq could lead to further tension with several countries of the European Union, which Hungary wants to join in 2004. Many of them oppose the American view on Iraq.

This comes as Mr. Medgyessy admits that negotiations on EU enlargement are already tough, because Hungary and other candidate states refuse to accept EU plans to initially grant their farmers only a quarter of the agricultural subsidies current members receive.