US government officials are set to make a last-moment attempt to argue Britain out of a 5G deal with Huawei, The Telegraph reports.
Members of the US National Economic Council and National Security Agency are expected to have face-to-face talks in London with their British counterparts soon.
It is understood that the team representing the National Economic Council will be headed by someone other than its chairman Larry Cudlow, while the security experts will be led by Matthew Pottinger, Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser.
The Telegraph cites government sources as saying that Boris Johnson won’t meet with the US officials, and that “it had not yet been decided if the officials will meet ministers tomorrow”.
This may be the last chance for the United States to push for a Huawei ban, as the UK’s National Security Council is set to decide later this month whether the Chinese tech firm should be allowed to take part in the roll-out of 5G networks in the UK.
The US has long claimed that Huawei’s telecommunications equipment may be designed to spy on foreign corporations and countries on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei has vehemently denied those claims.
The United States and two of its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, Australia and New Zealand, have fully banned Huawei from their 5G communication networks, citing security risks.
The Trump administration has warned Canada and the UK – two other Five Eyes allies yet to make up their mind on Huawei – that the use of its 5G gear would hamper their intelligence ties.
In an interview to The Telegraph published on Sunday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed that the US had explicitly threatened to cut off their intelligence-sharing partnership if Huawei is allowed to take part in 5G build-up.
“They have repeatedly said that. They have been clear about that,” he told the newspaper. “President Trump, the national security adviser. The defence secretary said it personally to me directly when we met at NATO. It’s not a secret. They have been consistent. Those things will be taken into account when the government collectively decides to make a decision on it.”