Trump withdraws US threat to stop intelligence sharing with UK over Huawei row

President says two countries 'will be able to work out any differences' - increasing speculation of UK climbdown

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 04 June 2019 15:56 BST
'We're going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei', says Donald Trump

Donald Trump has withdrawn the US threat to stop sharing intelligence secrets over the Huawei row, increasing speculation of a climbdown by the UK.

Asked if Washington was ready to “impose limits on intelligence sharing”, the US president replied: “No, because we are going to 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.”

Mr Trump confirmed he and Ms May discussed the controversy, adding: “I see absolutely no limitations. This is a truly great ally and partner and we’ll have no problem with that.”

The comments come after two leadership contenders – Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid – suggested they would rip up Theresa May’s plans to hand Huawei a limited role in building the UK’s 5G technology.

Perhaps significantly, Mr Hunt, who fought the decision at the leaked National Security Council meeting in April, was at the talks with Mr Trump and the outgoing prime minister.

At the weekend, Mr Hunt suggested the initial recommendation to allow Huawei a limited role – leaked from the NSC, triggering Gavin Williamson’s sacking – would be overturned after the US threat.

“We would never take a decision that would affect our intelligence-sharing capabilities with the US,” the foreign secretary said.

“We have to look at the technical issues that are around whether buying products from a specific country could be a back door to espionage and we are looking at those very carefully.”

The decision as due “in the Spring”, but has been delayed after Ms May appeared to accept it would have to be taken by her successor.

The US has banned Huawei from government networks and put pressure on the UK to do the same, over fears – denied by the company – that it is a vehicle for Chinese government spies.

The company is legally obliged to cooperate with the Chinese government if it demands access to information held by the company.

Asked about the discussion with Mr Trump, the prime minister’s spokesman said she had told him there as “an ongoing review” into Huawei’s role, which would be “very thorough and rigorous”.

Ms May had emphasised the UK’s “commitment to security”, during the talks in Downing Street.

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