Post-Brexit trade deal, Huawei top Pompeo agenda in Britain

LONDON (AP) — United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in London on the cusp of Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) for talks focussed on a post-Brexit free trade deal and the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to allow the Chinese tech company Huawei to play a role in the country’s high-speed wireless network.

As US President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial nears a close in Washington, Pompeo met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday to re-register American concerns about Huawei and the possibility that its entry into the market could affect US-Britain intelligence cooperation.

US officials said they believed the British decision wouldn’t greatly affect negotiations on a trade deal, but could hurt other aspects of the relationship upon which Britain is counting after its divorce from the EU that takes effect today.

“We were urging them to make a decision that was different than the one that they made, and now we’ll have a conversation about how to proceed,” Pompeo told reporters travelling with him on the trip to Europe and Central Asia that will also take him to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

“Our view of Huawei has been that putting it in your system creates real risk,” Pompeo said. “This is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party.”

“We’ll evaluate what the UK did,” he said. “It’s a little unclear precisely what they’re going to permit and not permit, so we need to take a little bit of time to evaluate that. But our view is that we should have Western systems with Western rules, and American information only should pass through trusted networks, and we’ll make sure we do that.”

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) in London on Wednesday. Pompeo is in the UK for high level trade talks ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union today. PHOTO: AP