U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stressed the Trump administration’s “profound” disappointment with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to participate in the development of its 5G network, and hinted it could pose trouble for planned trade talks between the two countries.
“We just don’t believe that, that utilizing the assets, the technology, of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interest of the U.K. (or) the United States,” Pence said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “And it remains a real issue between our two countries.”
Pence was then asked if Johnson’s decision was a “deal breaker” in terms of the two sides negotiating a trade deal.
“Well, we’ll see. We’ll see if it is,” Pence said. “But,” he added, “we’ll continue to make it very, very clear the president has a strong relationship with Prime Minister Johnson. And we are anxious to build our economic ties.”
The U.K., which left the European Union at the start of this month, wants to negotiate a new trade agreement with the United States to help define its post-Brexit future as a free trade beacon on the outskirts of Europe.
Pence noted that he personally told Johnson in September “the moment the U.K. is out of Brexit, we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the U.K.”
The vice president also noted the two sides have begun some preliminary talks on a trade deal.
But he declined to comment on a recent Financial Times report that President Donald Trump scolded Johnson over the Huawei decision, when the two leaders recently spoke by phone.
“I never, never comment on the President’s private conversations with me or for others. But we were profoundly disappointed,” Pence said.