Secretary of State Mike Pompeos tour to the UK, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia was focused on bilateral economic and security cooperation and warning the visited countries about Chinas unfair, state-led trade, and investment practices.
Secretary Pompeo traveled to London a few days before Britains departure from the European Union where he met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to re-affirm the Special Relationship between the UK and the United States after Brexit and discuss strengthening their bilateral ties, including negotiating a free trade deal.
Pompeo also discussed with his UK counterpart Raab the security of U.S. intelligence sharing with the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, through the “Five Eyes” privileged sharing system.
The UK announced granting the Chinese telecom giant Huawei a role in building “non-sensitive” parts of Britains next-generation wireless network.
The United States warned Britain repeatedly during past months that such a decision could pose a high risk to the security of its networks, and the United States would have to reconsider intelligence sharing with allies that use Huawei.
Raab explained at a press conference that the UK made its decision after “three years” worth of analysis. He believes the UK can protect its security as well as the security of information exchange with its allies, through the Five Eyes. He also brought up a point that it was a “market failure” where only three major vendors make kit suitable for 5G networks—Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia—and “we, as a government, as a country, take some responsibility for [that].”
After the meeting, Pompeo said both countries would find a way to ensure the high security of their systems to avoid cutting intelligence sharing.
Pompeo was also optimistic regarding the future of the Special Relationship post-Brexit. He said that “the core set of relationships” built upon decades will remain. “We will be able to reduce transaction costs and share in ways that we could not do when the United Kingdom was part of [the EU] … Some of this will be worked out through the free trade agreement. Some of it will be worked out by entrepreneurs just kicking it and getting it right,” Pompeo said.
Visiting Eastern Europe
Pompeo continued his tour by visiting Ukraine and Belarus in Eastern Europe, and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. All four countries were once part of the former Soviet Union and upon its dissolution in 1991 declared their independence. The United States almost immediately recognized their independence.
In Kyiv, Pompeo met with Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, a few days after the United States imposed a fresh round of sanctions related to Russias annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Pompeo re-affirmed the Crimea Declaration issued by the United States in 2018, which states that “Crimea is a part of Ukraine and the United States will never recognize Russias attempts to annex it,” at a joint press conference with Zelensky.
He also said that the United States supports a diplomatic solution to the Russia-instigated conflict in east Ukraine. “We will never accept anything less than the full restoration of Ukraines control over its sovereign territory,” Pompeo said.
The United States has provided $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2017. Zelensky said that it was mostly military aid that included supplying arms and equipment like anti-tank Javelin missiles and training for the Ukrainian military.
Zelensky said that his country is also interested in increasing investment and trade cooperation with American companies in developing Ukraines infrastructure, including building railways, roads, and bridges, as well as in the natural gas and oil sector.
Pompeo said they discussed these trade and investment opportunities. Still, the prerequisite for Ukraine to attract American investment is to increase the rule of law and transparency—“… the very things that President Zelenskyy and Ukrainians are fighting for.”
When visiting Belarus, Pompeo met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei about a month after Russia stopped supplying oil to Belarus after both countries failed to renegotiate an oil price for 2020. [link] Belarus turned to import oil from Norway in January.
The United States offered to supply Belarus with all of its oil and gas needs at competitive prices, said Pompeo at a joint press conference with Makei.
Pompeo and Makei agreed that both countries have the will to develop bilateral relations starting with “the returning of the ambassadors after the 12–years break.”
U.S. relations with Belarus worsened in 2006 when the United States imposed sanctions on Belarus after a presidential election that “violated international norms,” according to a statement.
“The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country,” said Pompeo. The Belarusian government has already signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the FBI on cooperation in information exchange on security threats, border security, cybersecurity and countering narcotics.
Both countries want to increase economic cooperation, but Pompeo said that Belarus needs to create conditions for American businesses to enter their market. The country needs to enter the World Trade Organization, develop further its private sector, make legal and regulatory changes, Pompeo said.
For the United States to lift the sanctions, Belarus needs to improve its human rights record, which includes further steps in countering human trafficking and improving religious freedom.