US President Donald Trump has predicted the US and UK will reach agreement over Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which has been at the centre of a security row between the Western allies.
Trump said he expected the “incredible intelligence relationship” with the UK would continue.
Co-operation between US and UK spies has been threatened by the prospect of Huawei playing a part in Britain’s 5G mobile Internet infrastructure.
Washington has banned the firm from involvement in US networks because of its alleged links to Beijing’s government — claims vehemently denied by Huwaei — and has pushed for other member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, including the UK, to do the same.
Reports have suggested the UK government could be prepared to allow the firm to play a role in “non-core” parts of the network but officials have stressed no decisions have been taken.
Speaking alongside outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May during his state visit, Trump said he expected the US and UK would continue to work together.
Asked if the US could impose limits on intelligence sharing if the UK used Huawei infrastructure, Trump said: “No, because we’re gonna have absolutely an agreement on Huawei and everything else. We have an incredible intelligence relationship and we will be able to work out any differences. We did discuss it — I see absolutely no limitations, we’ve never had limitations. This is a truly great ally and partner and we’ll have no problem with that.”
‘Serious piece of work’
Downing Street said there was an “ongoing review” that was a “rigorous” and “very serious piece of work”.
“The PM stressed our absolute commitment to national security,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.
Once the review is complete, its conclusions will be announced to parliament, the spokesman added.
Earlier this week, Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said: “We’ve been clear — our ask is that our allies and our partners and our friends don’t do anything that will endanger our shared security interests or restrict our ability to share sensitive information.”
The UK’s security minister, Ben Wallace, implied a softer approach would take into account the “British sense of fair play”.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Alongside the technical questions is obviously the question of behaviour of a number of states. We’re British, we believe in fair play, and I think if we want to allow people access to our markets we have to say there are rules … not using the espionage to steal our intellectual property.
“How do we maintain a level playing field and fair play that allows foreign investment, foreign access to our markets and vice versa but people don’t exploit that goodwill to steal and cheat?”