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Trump vents ‘apoplectic’ fury at Boris Johnson over his Huawei decision

Friday, 07 February 2020 9:34 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 07 February 2020 9:45 PM ]
 

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump (left) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (File photo)

US President Donald Trump has reportedly vented “apoplectic” fury at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a phone call over his decision to grant Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei a role in the country’s 5G telecoms networks.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Friday that Trump could block the way to a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the United States over Johnson’s decision.

Asked if Johnson’s decision could be a “deal-breaker” for a UK-US trade agreement, Pence replied: “We’ll see.”

Pence said the Trump administration is “profoundly disappointed” by the British government for granting access to Huawei.

“I remember, I met with Prime Minister Johnson. I told him the moment the UK is out of Brexit we were willing to begin a negotiation a free trade arrangement with the UK. And now the UK is out of Brexit. Our team had begun that process, to work, but we just don’t believe that utilizing the assets, the technology of Huawei, is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States. And it remains a real issue,” he said.

The White House had warned Britain that allowing China’s Huawei company into its 5G telecommunications networks would pose a security risk to the UK’s secret intelligence agencies.

But the UK prime minister rejected US concerns about the Chinese tech giant and allowed Huawei into Britain’s 5G networks.

“The United States is disappointed by the UK’s decision,” a senior administration official said when it was announced.

President Trump was “apoplectic” when told of the decision by Johnson last week and slammed down the phone on their conversation, the Financial Times reported on Thursday quoting sources familiar with the call.

The sources confirmed that the Trump-Johnson call was “very difficult” and said they were taken aback by the force of Trump’s language towards Johnson.

The White House meanwhile only provided a short official readout of the call last Tuesday. “Today, President Donald J Trump spoke with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom. The two leaders discussed critical regional and bilateral issues, including telecommunications security.”

Trump could block trade deal with UK: Pence

US Vice President Mike Pence

Pence told CNBC on Friday: “I think the president has been very clear, and secretary of state [Mike] Pompeo reiterated it this week, that the US is very disappointed that the UK has decided to go forward with Huawei for a portion of its information technology.”

“We are profoundly disappointed, because when I went at the president’s direction in September, I met with Prime Minister Johnson and I told him the moment the UK was out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK, and now the UK’s out of Brexit our teams have begun that process,” he added.

 “But we just don’t believe that utilizing the assets and technologies of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the UK, of the United States, and it remains a real issue between our two countries.”

Asked if the Huawei decision would be “a deal-breaker”, Pence replied: “We’ll see. We’ll see if it is.”

“We’re anxious to build our economic ties, but we have made it clear to Prime Minister Johnson and to officials in the UK, that as we expand opportunities to build out 5G across this country … we want to see our companies meet the needs in the United States and UK and among all our allies without the compromise of privacy and the compromise of security that necessarily comes with Huawei and control by the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.

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