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Mike Pompeo and Boris Johnson
Image: Reuters/K. Lamarque

Pompeo promises 'enormous benefits' to Brexit on UK trip

January 30, 2020

The US secretary of state encouraged a major post-Brexit trade deal despite differences regarding Chinese firm Huawei. The two countries top diplomats agreed that the Chinese government is a "central threat."


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was "fantastic" that the UK will no longer have to abide by EU rules. Speaking in London on Thursday, Pompeo met with his British counterpart Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the eve of Brexit.

Pompeo praised the strength of the US-UK relationship, and said he was confident the two nations could swiftly work out the new trade deal that will be necessary once Britain leaves the European single market.

"There were things that the United Kingdom was required to do as part of being a member of the EU, and they'll be able to do them differently now," Pompeo told an audience at a London think tank. "Some of this will be worked out through the free trade agreement, some of it will be worked out by entrepreneurs just kicking it. You will see enormous benefits that accrued to both our nations as a result of this."

Precisely what degree of divergence from EU norms and standards the UK will have is yet to be determined and will be subject of the next stage of Brexit negotiations.

"I am confident a deal [with the US] can be done," Raab agreed. "There is huge alignment in terms of our economic interest. Of course there will be difficult issues."

There was, however, tension over the news that the UK will allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to have a limited role in building its 5G network. The US has been cautioning allies against allowing Huawei into their systems over espionage fears.

"When you allow the information of your citizens or the national security information of your citizens to transit a network that the Chinese Communist Party has a legal mandate to obtain it creates risk," Pompeo told reporters, adding that he was sure that "our two nations will find a way to work together to resolve this difference."

The secretary of state said that the Chinese government is the "the central threat of our times."

Pompeo heads to Ukraine under impeachment cloud

Pompeo also met with Prime Minister Johnson, who has surprised many by refusing to side with the US on several major issues since talking office, including Huawei and the Iran nuclear deal.

Ahead of talks with Johnson, Pompeo said Brexit would bring "enormous benefits" to both the US and the UK.

The US top diplomat was in London on his way to Ukraine, where he will be the first member of President Donald Trump's cabinet to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The visit comes under the shadow of an impeachment trial against Trump that centers around a call in July in which, witnesses have testified, the president implied that he would withhold military aid to Kyiv if the Ukrainian government did not launch an investigation into Hunter Biden.

Biden is the son of one of Trump's Democratic rivals, Joe Biden, and was formerly on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Pompeo will then continue on to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan before returning to Washington.

es/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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