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Pompeo visit to focus on U.S. concerns over Huawei in central Europe

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON 

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. of State will voice concerns about the growing presence of China's in when he visits Hungary, and next week, a senior U.S. said on Friday as Washington tries to bolster ties with a region it acknowledges it has neglected.

Pompeo's visit will be the first by a U.S. of State to in two decades, while the last top American to travel to was in 2011.

In and Slovakia, Pompeo will also discuss ways to bolster security relationships with both countries, including clinching deals on defense cooperation, a senior administration said in a briefing to reporters about the trip.

Pompeo will travel to from Feb. 12 to 14 for talks and to attend a U.S. conference on the as it tries to build a coalition against and develop a peace plan between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"In Hungary, the will give particular focus to the role of in central Europe, and express our concerns about the growing presence of Huawei in Hungary," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He will "urge regional leaders to heed the warnings of countries from who have found themselves in difficult straits as a result of working too closely with the Chinese," the official said.

plans to create a European logistics center in and boost production capacity there this year. It has also offered to build a cyber security center in Poland, where last month a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official were arrested on spying charges.

The U.S. is trying to persuade countries to avoid Huawei, which is under scrutiny from Western intelligence agencies for its perceived ties to and the possibility its equipment could be used for espionage.

Huawei has repeatedly denied engaging in intelligence work for any government.

The was particularly worried about Huawei's influence in small eastern and central European countries where it was easy for to penetrate state systems, the said.

He said "sees relatively small countries with a recent history of communism, with significant pathways of corruption, that lend themselves more readily to state penetration in key sectors, and then they have a springboard to operate within EU fora."

China and Russia's growing influence in occurred in part because of a lack of robust U.S. engagement in the past decade, the official said.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by and Grant McCool)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 09 2019. 02:53 IST