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Trump plays good cop on Huawei after Pompeo’s European threats

Bloomberg Washington | Updated on June 06, 2019 Published on June 06, 2019

Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, USA   -  Reuters

The Trump administration has engaged in a combative global campaign for months to keep Huawei products out of future 5G broadband networks

President Donald Trump adopted a conciliatory tone this week toward Europes approach to Huawei Technologies Co, the Chinese telecom giant the United States (US) has demanded its allies abandon over security concerns.

The Trump administration has engaged in a combative global campaign for months to keep Huawei products out of future 5G broadband networks, including threats to curb intelligence-sharing with allies if they do not comply. The US alleges that China could use Huawei equipment for spying, a charge the company’s executives have repeatedly denied.

Trump had the opportunity during meetings with leaders of the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland this week to badger them about Huawei and amplify his administrations threats. He has, instead, taken a more cooperative approach.

“We deal very closely with -- as you know -- with your intelligence and your security and were working on that together. And I know you are concerned like were concerned, were all concerned about it. We are working on it together very much with not only Europe but with Ireland,” Trump told Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Wednesday at Shannon Airport.

After a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May a day earlier, he dismissed the idea of cutting Britain off from US intelligence-gathering.

No limitations

“We have an incredible intelligence relationship and we will be able to work out any differences. I see absolutely no limitations. We have never had limitations. This is a truly great ally and partner, and well have no problem with that,” Trump said in a joint news conference with May.

Asked directly whether he was prepared to curb information sharing if Britain placed no restrictions on Huawei, Trump answered: No.

Because were going to have, absolutely, an agreement on Huawei and everything else, he added.

Trump is expected to meet with French President Emanuel Macron on Thursday.

Bad Cop Pompeo

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who joined Trump in the UK, has essentially played bad cop in Europe. Before Trumps trip, Pompeo said during a visit to Germany that the US may have to change its behavior regarding intelligence sharing.

It echoed a warning Pompeo made in April to NATO allies.

“We have made clear that if the risk exceeds the threshold for the United States, we simply wont be able to share that information any longer,” he told reporters after meeting with counterparts from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Washington.

May’s spokeswoman told reporters earlier Tuesday that the government is still reviewing its policy on Huawei and will make a decision based on hard-headed technical assessments.

Trump has been less understanding toward China and Huawei itself. His administration is seeking to choke off the company’s access to vital US components, requiring its American vendors to seek US government permission to do business with the company.

The issue has become entangled in Trumps trade war with China, particularly after the US president suggested the company’s fate could be addressed in a deal to resolve economic disputes.

China has recently taken recent punitive actions toward US companies including FedEx Corp and Ford Motor Co that analysts have regarded as retribution for Trumps trade policy and his administrations moves against Huawei.

Trade came up during Trumps brief visit to Ireland. At a press conference, Varadkar was quick to tell the American president that his government was anxious to avoid a physical border as a result of Brexit. This came after Trump told him that it will all work out with his wall. At the moment, there is no visible border on the island of Ireland -- a situation a hard-Brexit threatens.

Published on June 06, 2019
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