LISBON (Reuters) - The United States has spent “the past couple years” working to make sure its partners around the world are aware of the risks of working with companies such as Huawei, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Lisbon on Thursday.
“The United States’ mission has been to share what we know, what we understand, and then how America is thinking about decisions we will have to make in light of where America’s information travels,” Pompeo said when asked about the Chinese electronics giant’s involvement in Portugal.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva, he did not cite Huawei by name, referring instead to what he called “untrusted networks.”
U.S. President Donald Trump in May placed Huawei on the country’s trade blacklist, citing national security concerns, and pressured its allies to shut out the company from their networks. Shenzhen-based Huawei has repeatedly denied Washington’s allegations about it.
“We recognize the sovereignty of every nation, the right to make decisions for themselves but we have tried for these past couple years to make clear to our friends, all around the world, of the attendant risks,” Pompeo added.
Chinese firms hold significant investments in key Portuguese sectors. The local unit of telecommunications firm Altice, the country’s largest operator, said last year it was working with Huawei to make Portugal a European leader in the development and roll-out of 5G networks.
Portugal’s telecommunications market regulator announced in October plans to hold an auction next year to allocate next-generation 5G frequencies to national operators.
Santos Silva said Portugal’s tender of public services, including those involving 5G, abide by European rules.
Pompeo was also asked about the 300-page report released by Democrats leading the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee earlier this week, which leveled allegations of sweeping abuse of power by Trump.
Pompeo flatly rejected the report on Thursday, describing it as “just all wrong”.
The report said many of Trump’s “closest subordinates and advisors,” including Pompeo aided Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine and withheld information from Congress.
The Republican president has denied any wrongdoing, calling the inquiry a hoax.
Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Sergio Goncalves, writing by Ashifa Kassam; editing by James Mackenzie and Kirsten Donovan