By Gergely Szakacs
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The hard-right prime ministers of Hungary and Poland will meet the leader of Italy's rightist League party on Thursday to discuss forging a new European political alliance, officials said.
The talks between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki and League leader Matteo Salvini are to be held in Hungary's capital Budapest.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Salvini said the thrust of the discussions would be on policy issues such as health, immigration, education and economic growth.
However, he said they would also talk about international alliances and he hoped all of Europe's right-wing parties could join in a single group within the European Parliament.
Orban's Fidesz party quit the main pan-European centre-right bloc, the European People's Party (EPP), earlier this month, two years after it was suspended for policies criticised by mainstream conservatives as authoritarian.
Orban's nationalist policies have long been seen as a better fit with smaller blocs to the right of the EPP - notably the eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group that includes Morawiecki's Law and Justice (PiS) party, or the rightist Identity and Democracy group that includes the League.
"If I had a wish, it would be that the two groups that are currently divided...merge into a single large group that would put back into focus the original values of Europe," Salvini told foreign reporters.
"It would be the second largest group in the European Parliament," he added, denying that he wanted to push his League, Italy's most popular party, into the EPP.
Orban, who has been in power since 2010, has said he has held talks with like-minded parties about creating a new political alliance as Fidesz seeks a new home within the European Parliament.
He says the goal is an umbrella political group for Fidesz and similar parties in Europe that do not want to host migrants and seek to "protect" traditional families.
Orban faces elections in 2022, with the opposition spanning centrists, liberals and socialists united against Fidesz for the first time.
(Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich)